Former MotoGP rider and 2011 BSB rookie John Hopkins heads into this weekend's fourth round at Thruxton holding second in the championship with one race win already under his belt.

The American admits he didn't dare hope for such a strong start to the season, as he seeks to rebuild his career following a downward spiral of injuries during 2008-2010, but suspects his toughest BSB test to date will come at Thruxton.

That's because Hopper has never ridden at the high-speed Hampshire circuit - his only prior knowledge being as a four-wheel passenger - although his previous success and increasing comfort on the GSX-R means he remains confident.

"I have seen a bit of Thruxton with just a few laps in the passenger seat of the car so this is probably going to be my toughest race of the season so far as I don't really have any track knowledge compared to the other guys," he said.

"I may not know the track but my confidence is growing every weekend and I feel increasingly comfortable on the bike and getting it working how we need to. We'll approach it like any other weekend and look to do the best possible job.

"We're in a competitive situation - I don't think before the season started, even on my most optimistic day, I would have predicted I'd be in second place now, just a few points off the lead.

"But I'm not going to let that alter my approach, the goal has always been to be in the top six, learning as much as I can as I go, so that I'm best placed come the three-round Showdown at the end of the year - that's when everything really has to come together."

Team manager Jack Valentine knows his star rider will have to dig deep this weekend, but believes he up to the task.

"Hopper has a mammoth task ahead of him, learning a dauntingly fast and tricky circuit," he said. "But no doubt he'll do exactly as he has done so far this season - do his own thing, letting the speed come to him.

"It's a big ask to see him on the podium again, but he's shown four-times on the bounce that he has the capability to do exactly that."

Hopkins starts the Thruxton round just three-points behind HM Plant Honda's Shane Byrne.



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