John Hopkins put one over on the British Superbike Championship contenders by claiming pole position for Sunday’s opening race at Donington Park. The American, who has endured a miserable 2014 campaign, rediscovered the form that took him to a double victory here back in 2011, outpacing Ryuichi Kiyonari and Shane Byrne.
Although he had been the quickest man on Friday, Hopkins hadn’t had the smoothest preparation for qualifying with a technical problem preventing him from taking any part in final practice. The Tyco Suzuki rider made light of the problems by setting 1:29.555, pipping Kiyonari by four hundredths of a second.
“My goal this weekend was a front-row qualifying, so it feels really good to be on Pole at a track that has always been good to me. I have really enjoyed riding here this weekend, but now we must turn it into the results we deserve after a tough start to the year. All the Tyco Suzuki boys did a good job as always, so this is as much for them as it is for me.”
Kiyonari was disappointed with second having failed to match his Q2 pace when pole position was finally up for grabs. Byrne, however, was satisfied with his result as he looks to set himself up for the title showdown.
“Being on the front row here is so important, as it is about getting away and keeping the rhythm. They will be two long and difficult races tomorrow but we have some things to try in warm up ahead of them. We want to try and get those final Podium Points ready for the Showdown.”
Fresh from his Cadwell Park victory, Peter Hickman produced another excellent display to qualify fourth while Stuart Easton boosted his slim showdown hopes by taking fifth, especially with Chris Walker down in fourteenth. Josh Brookes will start sixth ahead of compatriot Josh Waters but James Ellison’s top six hopes took a further hit, the GBmoto rider qualifying one spot behind his teammate Walker.