A crash in the opening British Superbike race at Donington Park at the weekend cost John Hopkins the chance to fight for his first podium finish of the season, after the 2011 runner up qualified on pole position on his Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000, but it was GSX-R machinery that was on the pace with two pole positions over the weekend.
In his first season back from a year out with injury, Hopkins has had a difficult season, but improvements over the course of the campaign saw the former MotoGP rider show what he and his Tyco Suzuki are really capable of at Donington, when he set a pole position time under the lap record.
However, a bad getaway as the lights went out saw him drop back a number of places, before the safety car was deployed. When racing resumed, a mistake at the Melbourne Loop caused him to lose the front and he crashed out.
His lap time was only good enough for a seventh row grid spot for race two, but he fought his way through from 19th at the end of lap one to finish inside the top 10 in ninth.
However, Josh Waters sett the fastest lap of the race in race one on his way to a sixth place finish to start on pole for race two. Unfortunately he could only convert that into a fifth placed finish after a mediocre start.
Hopkins said of his weekend, “I lost a couple of places early on in race one and was unsettled, then I made some silly mistakes and lost more positions. After that I struggled to get the rhythm going and the pace car came out.
“I got my head down and got things going again, but I made a stupid mistake going into the Melbourne Loop, lost the front; and that ruined our day as we had to start from the back of grid in race two.
“I did everything I could but burned my tyre up in the first half of the race, which meant I was just skating around in the last five laps.
“This whole last part of the season takes us to tracks I like, so we’re still on the hunt for that first podium, starting at Assen.”
“But yeah, overall I’m happy with the weekend. We’re now starting to get inside that top-six regularly and today I believe I could have run in the battle for the final podium spot.
“But it’s coming together and we’re at the sharp-end and I’m learning all the time. I’m really enjoying riding the Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000 and although I’ve never been to the next round at Assen before, I’m sure come qualifying we’ll be good.”
Taylor Mackenzie was in the hunt for fourth place in Satrday’s Supersport race, but ran on at Goddards and lost ground. He then was caught up in a horrible incident in Sunday’s race on the start finish straight, and was lucky to avoid injury.
He said, “I’m a bit battered and bruised after that incident, but it could have been a lot worse. I made a mistake in Saturday’s race, which cost me an opportunity to be battling for a podium and today there was nothing we could do about that. All I can do is regroup and come back stronger at Assen.”
Team Manager Philip Neill commented, “There’s no hiding the fact that we were certainly expecting more in terms of results after taking two pole positions this weekend.
“John got bashed-up a bit in the early laps of race one and it unsettled him and he made a mistake as he’s already said. Sadly that ruined his chances in race two having to start from row seven, so the wait continues for that first podium, but his qualifying pace proves he has the ingredients – he just needs to string it all together.
“Josh Waters again did what we asked of him taking points in the top-six. To put the Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000 on pole position for race two was very impressive, but being his first in BSB probably unnerved him a little – although he recovered well and did a solid job.
“Taylor is starting to show glimpses of good form in the Supersport class, but a mix of small mistakes and bad luck have robbed him of also scoring heavily on the points. The second race incident looked a bit nasty, so we’re just glad he’s not injured and ready to reload and go again at Assen, as we try to get him into podium contention.”