Tough Qualifying Session for Hopkins at Brands Hatch
Samsung Crescent Suzuki’s John Hopkins qualified 11th after failing to make it into the final qualifying round in his British Superbike debut on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit just outside of London.Hopkins made it out of the first of three qualifying rounds, but got buried deep in the field in the second session with a lap of 45.739 secs. and wasn’t able to advance to the final round. The result is that he’ll start on the third row in Sunday’s two opening rounds of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship on Monday.Pole position with a new outright lap record for the 1.198-mile Brands Hatch Indy layout went to HM Plant’s Shakey Byrne (Hon). With time running out, Byrne needed only 45.171 secs to set the fastest ever lap of the six-turn layout late in Q3. Then on the next lap he lowered it to 45.112 secs.
The Brit needed all of that to hold off his teammate, the defending national champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, whose best came up .080 sec. short of Byrne’s.A pair of Swan Yamahas filled out the front row. Michael Laverty was about a tenth off Kiyonari’s pace with teammate Tommy Hill very close to Laverty.
French teen-ager Loris Baz led off the second row for Motorpoint Yamaha. Michael Rutter qualified the first Ducati, of Rapid-Bathams, sixth fastest.In all, there were 18 riders on the lead second.