John Hopkins insists the shoulder injury he sustained last time out in the 2011 British Superbike Championship at Knockhill just over a week ago will not hamper him as the series heads to Snetterton this weekend – and 'a lot of points and a lot of podium credits' are what the Samsung Crescent Suzuki star is targeting.
Hopkins notched up his first DNF of what has been to-date an ultra-impressive maiden campaign of BSB competition in race two in Scotland, striking his elbow and shoulder on the kerb as he fell at Duffers' Dip – fortunate indeed not to be collected by any of the oncoming pack. Still sitting in a strong second place in the chase for the 'Showdown' – 29 points adrift of fellow 'old hand' Shane Bryne – the ex-MotoGP ace is confident he will be fighting-fit to attack right from the 'off' around the exciting new 'Snetterton 300' layout.
“I'm looking to score a lot of points and net a lot of podium credits this weekend,” affirmed 'Hopper', who will find himself on a level playing field with his 2011 BSB rivals for the first time this year in terms of track knowledge. “My shoulder injury from Knockhill, while not completely healed, will not bother me. I went to the Clinica Mobile at the Dutch GP at the weekend, and after the laser treatment and expert physio, I'm in great shape.
“We tested here at Snetterton 300 last Tuesday, and I like the track. It's the usual job of joining the dots to make the lap flow, and there's a lot happening in the first half of the lap. There's lots to consider – it'll be a busy weekend – but the bike felt great and I've got a good feel for what's to come.”
Team-mate Jon Kirkham is approaching the sixth outing on the 2011 calendar in similarly positive spirits, determined to consistently achieve the kind of results his lap times have suggested are possible around what is now the second-longest circuit in the UK – and in so doing, rejoin Hopkins inside the crucial 'Showdown Six'.
“What a track!” the Croft winner enthused of Snetterton's new elongated layout. “After Knockhill, it took a few laps here to get used to riding the bike at top speed again – this is one fast circuit – but it's also one with lots of passing places, and I think we can look forward to some brilliant racing.
“I know what my job is for the weekend – I've got to nail two top fives and enough points to get back into the top six in the standings and consolidate my position there.”
“We had a good test here last week,” concluded Samsung Crescent Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine. “Both riders got in plenty of laps and comfortably set good lap times. Every lap meant more circuit knowledge, and this will be important come the start of Friday's practice – we'll be starting straightaway from a good base on which to build for qualifying and the races.
“Hopper is reporting his shoulder's feeling much stronger and is now comfortable given the rest and the work the Clinica Mobile people did on it. I'm sure he'll be on the pace and grabbing a good number of points and podium credits this weekend. JK should be on the pace as well. He was setting lap times comparable to the front-runners during his comeback ride in race two at Knockhill. He's got the pace and he's shown he can beat everyone in the paddock; he just needs to put it all together consistently every weekend.
“For the fans, we're certainly facing an exciting weekend. A new track means new lap records, new everything – at just the right time for the championship.”