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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - BSB Preview -

epayme YAMAHA

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.”

Races

Best re­sult

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,

Age

Races

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:

SUZUKI GSX-R1000

Eas­ton is still adapt­ing to the R1 but Hop­kins is full of con­fi­dence Hop­kins reck­ons he has his best chance yet of bag­ging the BSB crown

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