Author: Oli Rushby Pics: Tim Keeton Posted: 18 Jul 2015
Most people had written John Hopkins off after his disastrous 2014 season with Tyco Suzuki.
He was unable to secure a ride for 2015 and, for a while, seemed to disappear off the face of the earth.
Now the former MotoGP star is back in British Superbikes as a stand-in rider for MotoRapido Ducati and says he’s feeling better than ever.
It’s not just talk either; heads were certainly turned at Brands Hatch this afternoon as Hopkins bolted to the top of the timesheet for a brief period in Q2 before going on to qualify ninth for tomorrow’s first race.
“I’m really happy with the way things have gone,” said Hopkins talking to Bike Social at Brands Hatch. “I’ve not been on a bike for a long time and have never ridden a Ducati. The bike is amazing and I’m really enjoying it.
“Everyone has been telling me all weekend that the Ducati is a bike that doesn’t like to be overridden and I unfortunately found that out the hard way in Q3 as I got too excited with the adrenaline pumping and made too many mistakes.
“In Q1 and Q2 I went real smooth, hit my lines and felt really comfortable but in Q3 I got a bit excited about getting on to the front row and pushed too hard and didn’t put a great lap together.”
A strong performance this weekend won’t do Hopkins’ chances of securing a longer-term ride any harm’ even he admits it was a gamble for the team to take him on.
“The way it ended last year wasn’t too great but I’ve known what I can do and you don’t forget how to ride; it’s just a matter of blowing the cobwebs off and having a bike plus confidence and I think we’ve got that so hopefully we can achieve some good results tomorrow.”
Out to prove a point with slightly less to lose than other riders, Hopkins says he won’t be afraid of making a few tight moves in tomorrow’s races.
“All riders when the race starts they give 110% regardless but some people have points to think about so many not make certain moves but I know they will be pushing hard. If the opportunity arises and I’ve got to make a tight pass here and there I’m definitely going to make it.
“I want a good result not just for myself but for the team as well. They took a chance on me and have been working really hard for this. Top five is definitely achievable.”
British Superbike bosses have added a ‘King of Brands’ twist this weekend, with the front three starters in race two being given the option to move to the back of the grid and fight for double points and £50,000 prize money. While some of the top championship contenders have said they wouldn’t do it, Hopkins is game:
“I have nothing to lose in that respect, so if I’m there, I’ll do it, yeah.”