John Hopkins went second-fastest in today's qualifying, placing him on the front row for tomorrow's penultimate round of the 2011 British Superbike Championship at Silverstone in Northamptonshire. His Samsung Crescent Racing team-mate Jon Kirkham qualified sixth fastest and will start from the second row.
Hopkins, who holds the lead in the championship, has ridden a conservative practice and qualifying as he's sought to limit the time his injured hand has to endure, saving his strength for the races, tomorrow. Despite this he's set fastest time in two practice sessions and only dipped out on setting pole time by the slightest of margins: 0.077-seconds. Jon Kirkham continues to enjoy his return to form and after another productive practice he's cut his personal best lap times by over a second, to post sixth fastest time.
John Hopkins: "Everything is going very well considering I've two plates and six screws wedg ed into my finger. It's very sore so I've kept my track time to a minimum. But I'm confident it'll be fine for the races – as at Donington Park, the adrenaline will kick in and take care of those.
"I'm lucky we had such a good setting to work from after the WSB races earlier this year, we've been able to work from there and I know we have a good race setting to go with. Tomorrow it'll be a case of getting a clean start and staying at the front. Bring home the points."
Jon Kirkham: "I'm really pleased with how practice and qualifying have gone. We've got a much better set-up for me this time around. I could probably have gone a bit quicker again, but I had a scare in the final qualifying when I had two big slides. The track was cooling at that time and that may have contributed to the slides, but I definitely feel there's more to come and I'll be pushing for top-five finishes again tomorrow."
Jack Valentine, team manager: "I'm very happy with progress. Hopper is being very careful about his hand and yet he's still been able to post fastest times! He's already shown what he can do around here, so we're in known territory, it's just a matter of staying focused, not taking anything for granted and being ready when the attacks come. But most certainly Hopper is in the best possible position going into tomorrow's racing.
"JK's put in yet another very impressive weekend. Last time here he wasn't too happy and although he scored world championship points he felt he could go better. Well, he's going much better this time around, he's over a second faster and far more confident in his bike and his abilities. I think he's looking very settled and he should be good for top-five tomorrow. All in all, we're in good shape."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Round 11, Silverstone
1. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 2m:05.056s
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.077s
3. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.455s
4. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +0.475s
5. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.588s
6. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.168s
7. Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +1.169s
8. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +1.305s
9. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +1.452s
10 .Dan Linfoot (Tyco Honda) +1.679s