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Samsung Crescent Racing conclude successful pre-season tests

Samsung Crescent Racing concluded their preparations for the 2011 British Superbikes season with two very successful tests at Brands Hatch and Snetterton these past two days. John Hopkins and John Kirkham set leaderboard times in the testing at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit yesterday and were again on top form at the test today at Snetterton, setting times equal to the best of the competition.

The team report a high level of satisfaction in their set-up and both riders are settling in well with their machines. It's been a steady build-up to the season, where machine development has been prioritised ahead of lap times, and this strategy would appear to have paid off as the riders are full of confidence in their bikes and the team with the first round of the championship now only a week away.

John Hopkins: "I'm really happy. We've accomplished everything that we set out to do with our preparations. I've managed to learn some of the British tracks and at the same time have improved the base settings on my bike.

"Brands yesterday was a real experience. I don't think I've ridden such a short track before. Yet there's still so much to learn there, with blind corners and so many cambers and undulations you really need to understand every inch.

"Good thing is I feel really comfortable with my bike, in fact I felt comfortable with my bike straight away and I don't think I've ever had that before. So I feel ready for the season ahead, but I know there's a lot yet to learn what with the tracks and with the people I'll be racing against. I'm up for it, though, and I feel with this bike and this team I can make the best possible job of it."

Jon Kirkham: "I can't believe the past two days. We've done something like 350 miles, I've got blisters on my hands and I've still got the lactic acid in my legs from the la p after lap we did of Brands Indy!

"This Snetterton 300 has been a challenge, too. I didn't think I was going to like it after the first session, it felt stop-start and the off-cambers weren't easy. But then I just got going and it started to flow. At one point I was joint-quickest and I was on another flyer this afternoon when it started spitting and everyone slowed.

"I'm really pleased to have come up to the pace. At the early tests, with all the press interest, there was pressure to do lap times, but we concentrated instead on set-up and that seems to have paid off. I'm still having to work for the lap times, but I've been able to get there calmly, without having any moments. And as well, I have to say I'm so happy with the team, we all seem to have settled in and so now we're working together without conscious effort. Even the little things get done nicely, it's so professional."

Jack Valentine, team manager: "I'm really very pleased with progress. Both riders have got stuck in these past two days, they did 110 laps apiece at Brands and today at Snetterton it was something like 65 laps each.

"We got some great work done at Brands with the electronics, particularly getting the anti-wheelie function to work very nicely and established a set-up that gave what would have been front-row lap times last season. Importantly, these settings seem to transfer well to Snetterton which meant Hopper and JK were both able to go very quickly, again.

"I think we can say both riders are now ready to race. We can't wait for the first round to kick off at Brands Hatch in a week's time."

The first round of the MCE Insurance 2011 British Superbikes championship takes place at Brands Hatch, in Kent, over the Easter weekend, April 22-25.