John Hopkins will start his first WSBK races from 16th on the grid at Valencia on Sunday, after a steep learning curve on day two of his first World Superbike weekend.

The former Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki MotoGP rider scrapped through to Superpole with 20th in Saturday morning's second qualifying session, then faced the hectic three-part knockout Superpole system and his first ever laps on Pirelli qualifying tyres.

The new Stiggy Honda rider successfully made it through Superpole 1, but was then eliminated during the second session, leaving him to start 16th on the grid.

"It's been an interesting day with learning everything, the qualifying session in the morning and then going into Superpole," said Hopkins. "I had to jump straight in with the qualifiers as I have never used a Pirelli qualifier in my life, but we tried to make the best of our situation.

"Unfortunately we didn't qualify anywhere near where we would have liked to," he confessed. "We made a lot of headway with the machine in the last session. We had some chattering but managed to improve and made some positive changes to the machine. Everyone will be packed together so it will be tough tomorrow, I need to get off the line as fast as I can and gain as many positions as possible."

"John has to make a good start and move as far forward as he can," confirmed team manager Johan Stigefelt. "I know he will push to his limits tomorrow. I'm very happy with his performance and the way he is adapting to the bike and the tyres. It's not easy coming into the competition and qualify just within 0.7s off the front guys."

Team-mate Leon Haslam, who holds fifth in the championship heading in to Sunday's races, also went out in Superpole 2 and will start from tenth position.

"I am pretty happy with our results," said the Briton. "We opted to use a qualifier in the first session which put me comfortably in tenth position. I used a qualifier again in the second session to get into the top eight [for Superpole 3] but Checa pulled out of the pits in front of me on my first flying lap.

"In my third lap I set my fastest time but by then the tyres were nearly finished. All in all I'm happy with the performance, to end up tenth on a third lap on a qualifier is not a bad result. We had our issues today but I am confident we can solve them for tomorrow after we've look at the data we've collected.

"I was second quickest on race tyres this morning so we've made good progress here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."


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