Hopkins on the pace in Croft qualifying
Inclement weather and ill luck have kept the Samsung Crescent Racing machines off the front two rows of the grid for tomorrow's opening BSB race at Croft. However, having posted a lap time just two-tenths off pole (in Q2) John Hopkins – winner of the last BSB race, at Oulton Park – remains confident of good results from tomorrow's races. He'll start the first race from P9.
His team-mate Jon Kirkham has endured a tougher weekend. Technical issues prevented him from riding in two of the three practice sessions, and with limited track time his qualifying times suffered. He'll start from P16 in tomorrow's opening race.
John Hopkins: "It's been another weekend of finding my way around a new track, trying to find a good flow, to create a rhythm. It's gone quite well considering I've not really been able to get a tow off anybody. I've had to find my own way, yet I've posted times as high as fourth fastest.
"In qualifying Q2 I was lucky enough to catch on to Shane Byrne and that allowed me to cut a few tenths of a second off my previous best; putting in a 1:20.3 meant I was just off front row pace. But then it showered lightly between Q2 and Q3 so I went out careful, and I'd just tucked in behind Tommy Hill to see if I couldn't repeat my trick from Q2 when it rained properly. If you hadn't got your quick lap in during the few minutes the track was dry then you were done for, and that was my fate.
"But I'm upbeat about tomorrow. We started the second race at Oulton Park in a similar start position – and won. I know I can get good starts and if I get in with the lead group then I'll use the tow and continue my work from there."
Jon Kirkham: "I was looking to continue on a roll from Oulton Park but having missed the first free practice with a fuel line issue it was instead catch-up in the seco nd practice. And then we got hit with electrical problems this morning so I missed the final practice as well.
"Having ridden so few laps I was on the back-foot in qualifying. I made it through the first qualifier but couldn't make it to the final. So I've a lot of work to do tomorrow, but in both meetings so far this season we've raced better than we qualified, so I'm hoping we'll do likewise here."
Jack Valentine, team manager: "For Hopper the weekend's gone mostly to plan. He's learnt the track well and applied some canny tricks to get himself on the pace. His only failing was to get caught out by the shower and then the rain in Q3. He's shown he can do the lap times, and he's got a good set-up to go race distance, so we expect strong performances from him tomorrow.
"JK's had a troubled weekend and without the track time he naturally struggled in the qualifying. He is, though, very happy with his bike's set-up and so we can expect him to go better tomorrow, too.
"Obviously with JK we've had our fair share of technical issues, but overall we're very pleased with the performance of both our bikes and riders this weekend and we're confident both riders will improve significantly come the races."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 1m:20.069s