Hopkins Fast in the Morning, Fifth in Qualifying

Paul Carruthers | July 29, 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing’s John Hopkins (Suz) made a splash in his wild card debut for his British Superbike team by setting the fastest time in morning free practice at the ninth round of the World Superbike Championship at Silverstone. The Californian backed it up by finishing fifth in the afternoon qualifying.In his first season in BSB, Hopkins is challenging for the championship lead; currently he sits second to Shane Byrne. But Silverstone isn’t a track he’s raced on before – the series doesn’t visit the circuit until later in the season – which means that Hopkins didn’t have home field advantage.In the morning Hopkins was fastest in front of Aprilia Alitalia’s Leon Camier and Czech rider Jakub Smrz on the Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati. BMW Motorrad’s James Toseland finished the morning a surprising fourth after returning from an extended injury lay-off.

Championship leader Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) was fifth as a prelude to qualifying. In the afternoon the Spaniard was back on pace to take the overnight pole with a lap of 2:05.477 mins. Having taken four poles this season, that wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was that the second fastest Friday qualifier was Frenchman Maxime Berger. The Supersonic Racing Ducati rider finished .393 secs. behind Checa in what would be by far his best qualifying position of the season. So far, he hasn’t qualified higher up the grid in Superpole than 12th.Berger was the best of the rest in a pack that was tightly bunched; second to 17th were covered by less than a second. Brit Tom Sykes used his home track knowledge to take the third fastest time in front of Camier, and Hopkins was a provisional fifth fastest.Team Suzuki Alstare’s Michel Fabrizio was sixth followed by Smrz, Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty, and reigning world champion Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia). Leon Haslam was the first BMW in tenth places.Superbike Qualifying: 1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2:05.477

2. Maxime Berger (Ducati) 2:05.870

3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 2:05.899

4. Leon Camier (Aprilia) 2:05.937

5. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 2:05.974

6. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki) 2:06.023

7. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 2:06.029

8. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha) 2:06.037

9. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 2:06.044

10. Leon Haslam (BMW) 2:06.116


Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.