John Hopkins produced his most convincing display on a World Superbike during a crucial two-day test at Imola, the American out pacing Leon Haslam despite being forced to miss the final afternoon session.
Still in the process of recovery from his accident at Assen, Hopkins was using the test as an ideal opportunity to get acquainted with the Stiggy Honda having been forced to curtail his return to race action at Misano and then Donington Park.
Nonetheless, the former MotoGP rider was in fine form when it mattered to claim the sixth fastest time of the test, even if a 'moment' on the second day required an x-ray and a spot on the sidelines in the afternoon.
“I feel like I have completed a good two days of testing here at Imola. It's my first time here and I used the first day to learn the track and find the right set-up for the machine. My confidence is growing on every lap and the bike really feels the way I want it to be.
“We only had one set of tyres to test here, but I have been able to lower my lap times on every outing. Unfortunately, the machine lost grip this morning, and when it came back it threw me back in the seat in a hard way. I had to get some x-rays of my hip and decided it would be best to skip the afternoon session."
Although he was playing second fiddle to Hopkins on this occasion, Haslam was only a tenth slower in eighth position to complete a good day for the Swedish team.
“I have finished a good two-days of testing here at Imola today. The heat played a big part in the afternoon session, it was just too hot and hard to improve the lap times. I managed to set the second fastest time on the standard race tyres.
“We have made good progress with the new front suspension and have tested some different clutches. I am happy with the development we have made here and feel in good shape for the next round at Brno."
Team manager Johan Stigefelt was also pleased with the progress made, despite being unable to get hold of the Pirelli development tyres their Ten Kate Honda counterparts were using.
"I am very happy with the Superbike results. We have tried a lot of different things that we wanted to try for a long time. It is good to see John improving on his bike, it is the first test in which he could actually work on developing the set-up of his machine.
“Unfortunately, we did not have access to the development tyres like the other teams, and are a little behind in that perspective. John has shown he is very fast and has great potential. Leon has already shown the potential of our machine, and with some new parts arriving for Brno, I am confidently looking forward to the next races.”