Californian John Hopkins started his British Superbike Series debut weekend off on a high note by recording the second fastest time during the final test session of the season at Brands Hatch – the site of this weekend’s BSB opener.The test was led by former MotoGP racer, World Superbike star and former British Superbike Champion Shane Byrne on the HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR.Hopkins led the way on the Samsung Crescent Suzuki until Byrne’s lap late in the session bested him.”We came here knowing that we had work still to do as some of the other teams had tested here previously,” Byrne said on the British Superbike Series website.
“We have a new electronics package and it has transferred between the circuits pretty well from the start. We had a few issues early in the session that were holding us back, but I was still feeling confident and we know there is more to come. We used old tires in the session and then when I put in a new tire it was red flagged on both occasions, but we know we can improve again tomorrow and I am happy with how day one has gone.”Ten minutes into the hour-long session Hopkins set the benchmark with a 46.311-second lap ahead of defending champion Ryuichi Kiyonari and his Hopkins teammate Jon Kirkham. Hopkins later did a 46.3 before a red flag stopped the session.When the action restarted, Josh Brookes put the Relentless Suzuki at the top, but a second red flag again stopped the action when Glen Richards crashed out. Byrne then went to the top spot with a time of 46.056 ahead of Brookes and Hopkins, but shortly thereafter Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill went to the top, only to be displaced by Hopkins – the first rider to set a 45-second lap with a 45.Byrne waited until the final two minutes of the session to put in his best lap – ending up just .170 of a second faster than Hopkins.