HOPKINS ‘MY BEST CHANCE’ BSB
New Yamaha man says he has a true title-winning bike for the first time in his BSB, WSB and Motogp career 32 64 5 0 SEASON PREV 32 144 4 0 33 217 50 3
John Hopkins has experience in MCE British Superbikes, WSB and Motogp so when he says that he is “more motivated than in any other year” his rivals will definitely be sitting up and taking notice.
Hopkins’ CV includes factory Grand Prix rides with Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki alongside WSB, AMA and BSB. The 32-yearold’s recent BSB career with the Crescent and Tyco Suzuki squads and Rapido Ducati last year have been upand-down affairs but the Californian has been reinvigorated by the opportunity to ride Tommy Hill’s epayme R1 Yamaha.
“It is one of the first times in my career that I am on a bike that is a proven winner,” he explains. “A lot of times in the recent past I was always riding a bike that was the underdog. To be on a bike that is a proven winner with Brookes taking the championship last year gives me more motivation to go out and perform.”
In pre-season testing Hopkins’ name has consistently appeared amongst the fast guys.
“I have gelled with the bike right away and I think it will help me find the sweet spot,” Hopkins says.
“Seeing the R1 on track last season I always thought it would be a bike that would suit my riding style and it has worked out in that respect. I’ve a grin from ear to ear!”
The American is also quick to heap praise on his new boss and old race rival, Tommy Hill.
“Hats off to Tommy, I think he has done a very good job in bringing in the mechanics and setting up the team,” Hopkins says.
“I think with his experience in racing, having that racer’s point of view helped him to create the team that we have and it is working great.”
In spite of his new love affair with all things Yamaha, the 2011 BSB series runner-up is under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead in trying to win his first major championship.
“This is going to be one of the strongest years competition-wise that BSB has ever had,” Hopkins says.
“The pedigree is as good as any championship. “It is by far the strongest domestic championship in the world. Leon Haslam is a proven WSB contender and here he is in BSB.” Who will the danger men be? “You’ve got Michael Laverty on the BMW. I think the Tyco team will be right there because they have had a year to develop the S1000RR,” he says.
“Shane Byrne will always be a championship contender in my eyes and the bike he is on will put him up there. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki boys are going to be strong as well and there will be wildcards like Mossey who will be in there too.
“I don’t think it will be just two or three guys either. I can see five or six contenders and I think it is going to be tough to ensure that you are in the Showdown this year but that is what we are here for.”
Titles So far Stuart Easton has not enjoyed such a smooth transition to R1 power as his American team-mate.
The 32-year-old Scot has struggled to find his feet on the Yamaha after shifting from the PBM Kawasaki team over the winter.
“The new bike is great, I just need to adapt to the different package,” he says.
“John is good at jumping on a bike and adapting quickly,
like he did with the Ducati. It just takes me longer to adapt to a new riding style.” Easton rode the Yamaha R1 for the first time at the Macau Grand Prix last November but failed to finish.
“The bike lends itself to mid corner performance more than entry,” he says.
“The Kawasaki was strong on the brakes and not so good in the middle of the corner. After all those years on a Kawasaki it will just take some time to adapt. But I will get there by race one.” Once again, we start a BSB season with Ryuichi Kiyonari presenting a total enigma. We all know how fast the three-time champion can be, but with his speed coming from his confidence, it’s still too early to know just how competitive he can really be in 2016.
He’s been fast in testing,
Wins though, and while it would be easy to rule out the 2015 Suzuki GSX-R1000 as a serious title contender Kiyonari jumped on the bike last year at the Suzuka 8-Hour and ended the race on the podium! Don’t rule the Japanese rider out of the chase for a Showdown spot or even the title... just yet.
and sides. The frame cannot be modified.
In 2012 significant changes were made to the regulations in an effort to bring down costs while at the same time improving the spectacle and increasing the opportunity for private teams to compete on even terms against the bigger budget manufacturer-supported squads. The following manufactures/machines will all be competing in the 2016 MCE British Superbike championship: