Samsung Crescent Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine believes Jon Kirkham is destined to have a 'strong' British Superbike season as he continues to make progress on the GSX-R1000.
The reigning Superstock champion was the team's sole rider during testing at Cadwell Park, but overcame fatigue and a nasty fall to continue lowering his lap times in preparation for his 2011 campaign.
Indeed, having been able to post promising times on used and fresh tyres, Valentine says he is impressed with Kirkham's 'strength and resilience'.
"This was a last minute opportunity to test at Cadwell Park and it came so late we weren't able to fly John Hopkins back from America in time,” he said. “However, his team-mate Jon Kirkham has been doing excellent work these past two days, developing electronics and chassis set-ups. His feedback will be invaluable to Hopper when he returns.
"Unfortunately Jon did suffer a heavy fall yesterday, at the bottom of The Mountain. He took a heavy blow to his elbow and was pretty sore after tumbling into the safety barriers. The incident was not his fault.
"He undoubtedly had an uncomfortable night, but he came back today and made excellent progress despite being run down – he'd flown back from Alpinestars (in Italy) very late Tuesday night – and beaten up.
"Jon set good lap times on race-length worn tyres in the mid-afternoon, so before we finished he went out one last time on fresh tyres and knocked another whole second off his best time.
“He's showing strength and resilience, but equally he's been able to far exceed his previous (Superstock) times and been able make the psychological jump of stepping it up when the opportunity arises. I can see Jon having a very successful rookie season in British Superbikes."