Hopkins heads for Oulton debut

“Oulton Park is the next step; quite a big one at that” – John Hopkins.
After finishing 17th and 5th in his BSB race debut last Monday at Brands Hatch, John Hopkins is under no illusions as he prepares to face another of the iconic circuits on the calendar, Oulton Park.

And after the mayhem of the short Brands Indy circuit, this weekend's prospect is even bigger: The 2.692 mile course, set in the estate grounds of the former Oulton Hall, combines rolling contours with breathtaking high-speed sweepers to create one of the season's most challenging circuits.

"Last weekend was certainly a tough introduction to BSB,” admitted former MotoGP star Hopkins. “I guess it was everything I expected - not for one minute I have imagined this task to be a walk in the park - but it certainly brought it back to me that I have to take this job step-by-step.

"Oulton Park is the next step; quite a big one at that. I first visited the circuit a fortnight ago for a track day on a road bike, so that I'd get an idea of where it goes and what the challenges will be.

“And, oh yes, there are lots of ups and downs and no question you have to know where you're going if you're to get a fast lap time. I'm in no doubt, this weekend I've a lot of work to do."

Team-mate Jon Kirkham recorded a fifth in race one at Brands before a mechanical DNF in race two. Kirkham 'loves' Oulton, but has sympathy with Hopkins in trying to learn the twists and turns.

"I feel for Hopper having to learn this place from scratch, but for me Oulton Park has to be my favourite track; I simply love this place,” said Kirkham. “And tracks like this really show the difference between the true Superbikes and the Evo bikes in the class - which I rode last year - so I'm really looking forward to what I'm sure is going to be an exciting ride."

After round one of twelve, Kirkham and Hopkins are equal tenth in the points and the climb back towards a place in the Title Fighter top six starts now.

"Coming to Oulton Park the team has a lot of work to do,” said Samsung Crescent Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine. “The past two seasons we've led into this round - this year the lads are equal 10th. That's down to the manic nature of Brands Hatch and not a little bad luck. But both Hopper and JK showed they can do the lap times, they both took away a top-five finish and proved they can run at the front.

“So this weekend will be about hauling in as many points as we can to get the both of them closer to, if not in, the vital Title Fighters top-six bracket. That's an intermediate goal, of course. Both our riders can, and will, be podium contenders, we've 11 more rounds to run, so much can happen."

This weekend's BSB round gets underway with free practice on Saturday, with qualifying Sunday. Race day is Bank Holiday Monday.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
John Hopkins - Samsung Crescent Suzuki [pic credit: Ian Hopgood Photography]
Jason O`Halloran, Honda Racing [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Josh Brookes, Anvil Hire Yamaha, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Shane Byrne, Be Wiser Ducati, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Luke Mossey, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Peter Hickman, Smiths BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Tommy Bridewell, Team WD-40 Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Bradley Ray, Buildbase Suzuki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Sylvain Guintoli, Bennetts Suzuki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
James Ellison, McAMS Yamaha [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Dan Linfoot, Honda Racing [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Alastair Seeley, Tyco BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Lee Jackson, Smiths Racing BMW [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Haslam, Byrne, Mossey, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Shane Byrne, Be Wiser Ducati, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam, JG Speedfit Kawasaki [Credit: Ian Hopgood]

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April 29, 2011 11:28 AM

Give the lad a chance, let's see what he can do. Huge pressure on his shoulders cos if he does well people will say 'what do you expect, he's ex GP?' and if he doesn't do well he'll be castigated. I bet there were a lot of track day bunnies pleased to be there on that day. Still talking about it down the pub, I'll bet.


April 29, 2011 12:34 AM
Last Edited 2248 days ago

Longtime Hopper fan here. In Johns entire international racing career he's never been on a top end kit. IMHO even though this Suzuki might not be quite on par with the H M Plant Honda and Swan Yamaha it is by far the most competative bike he's ridden since 2007. That being said and lack of track knowledge aside.... it's "Go Time" John! Time to put up! I've got my fingers crossed for you, best of luck!

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