John Hopkins admits he has not yet attained complete race fitness after being forced to withdraw from the second World Superbike race of the weekend at Imola with severe arm-pump.
Having missed the opening round of the season after re-injuring his hand in Australia, the 2011 British Superbike runner-up was in high spirits ahead of his first 2012 outing with the Crescent Fixi Suzuki team at Imola, but his lack of mileage told during free practice and qualifying as he failed to make it into Superpole.
Nonetheless, Hopkins made good gains in the first race, forging his way into the top fifteen to score three valuable points in 13th.
However, the stress of a 21 lap race would take a toll on his recently-operated on injuries, Hopkins getting just four laps into the second race before deciding to withdraw altogether.
Indeed, while Hopkins concedes his fitness is not ideal at this moment, he is certain he will be a stronger candidate when the season resumes at Assen in less than three weeks' time.
“I made a decent start in race one, but lost a few positions in the carnage in the first laps,” he said. “After that I kept my head down and tried to lap consistently. I wanted to get used to being in a race situation again after such a long time. Understandably my right arm was a bit sore after 21 laps, but I thought it'd be OK for race two. But, almost right from the start, it began to pump up and soon I couldn't hold on to the bars properly.
“I knew it was impossible to ride competitively and because I didn't want to put anybody else in danger, I decided to pull in. I'm realistic enough to know that I am not yet race fit, but there were positives that I can build on. I know I'm going to be a lot stronger next time out for sure.”