Red Bull Yamaha rookie John Hopkins ended his first day at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit full of optimism having finished 12th fastest in today's opening qualifying session.

The American teenager once again proved his effectiveness at learning new tracks quickly as he found the heavy braking nature of the 2.983 miles circuit perfectly suited to his aggressive riding style.

Hopkins set his fastest time on his last lap having opted to break with his normal weekend routine by running a Dunlop qualifier in the closing stages.

His best time of 1min 51.356secs saw 'Hopper' shave a massive 1.8secs off his best time from this morning's free practice session, and was just reward for his efforts in surprisingly hot and humid conditions for the Twin Ring Motegi.

"Today went really well considering this is another track that I've never been to before," smiled Hopkins. " I just got my head down and extended my braking markers and found I could go much quicker. I learned that I was braking too early and that made me too slow at the apex of the corner. Now I pretty much know where the limits are but I still think I can brake even deeper tomorrow. I really like the track. There's a lot of hard braking which I like. It allows you to be really aggressive on the brakes and that's good for my style."

Team-mate Garry McCoy ended the session down in 18th place, although he is confident of significant improvements tomorrow after his final run was thwarted by slower riders. That was still 2.5secs quicker than this morning?s session when set-up and brake problems had hindered the 30-year-old.

"I had some problems this morning," confirmed McCoy. "One bike felt it was vibrating a lot while the other one had front and rear brake problems. I was thinking more about fixing the problems than riding fast. I had a qualifier at the end of the session and on my flying lap I came across Kenny Roberts and Sete Gibernau. They just seemed to be cruising and by the time I'd found a hole through them, it was a bit too late. I thought it was a good lap."

Director of Racing Peter Clifford was full of praise for Hopkins, while expecting more from the experienced McCoy.

"That was another excellent performance from John. He was excellent all day and showed his ability at learning tracks quickly. At the start of the year he had to learn the bike as well as the tracks, but know he only has to learn the tracks his improvement is even faster. Garry has more to give tomorrow but his final run was spoilt today," said Clifford.

 

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