In his first official British Superbike practice sessions, John Hopkins got a taste of the intensity of British Superbike racing by finishing fifth overall following four veterans who had little between them as they fought for supremacy heading into Monday's opening round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill set the fastest time in today's two practice sessions on the 1.198-mile Brands Hatch Indy layout. The lap of 45.499 secs. was narrowly fastest, with the next three riders within .037 sec.Hill's teammate Michael Laverty was second best at a gap of .008 sec., with HM Plant Honda teammates Ryuichi Kiyonari and Shane Byrne third and fourth respectively.Then came Hopkins, the fastest of the rest on his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki with a lap of 45.728 secs. The Californian with strong family ties to the British Isles was .229 sec. off Hill's pace and .066 sec. ahead of Dan Linfoot on the Sorrymate.com Honda.Hill's best lap came towards the end of the afternoon session as he nearly matched the four-year -old circuit lap record.
"That was hard, hot work but I needed to put in as many laps as I could both in Friday's test and then these sessions as before that I had only done a dozen laps on the bike in the previous eight weeks," Hill said.
Practice continues on Easter Sunday, with Superpole-type qualifying set for the afternoon to set the grid for Monday's two 30-lap races.