Points on BSB debut for Hopkins
Points on BSB debut for Hopkins

Kent’s Luke Hopkins made his Bennett’s British Superbike Championship debut at the weekend at Oulton Park, scoring points on his series debut.

It marked an impressive weekend for the Kent rider who was making his debut in the ultra competitive series, and showing that he can compete with some of the best in the country and further afield on what is essentially a stock bike.

After almost writing off the bike in free practice, he managed 17th in race one, 20th in race two and 14th in the third collecting two hard earned points for his efforts.

Having only started racing circuits in 2015 the nineteen-year-old Luke Hopkins from Sittingbourne has come from the back of the grid to race in the British Superbikes in just six years. The tight-knit family team is probably the most underfunded in the paddock but no less determined than their rivals.

Free practice

The weekend of Luke’s first British Superbike race did not get off to a good start. Having completed just two laps of his first ever race weekend at the top level of motorbike racing in Britain he lost the front end and crashed. Apart from a few bruises Hopkins was fine but the same could not be said for his Honda. The bike hit the gravel trap and flipped several times meaning a huge rebuild overnight including a new frame and swing-arm. Clearly Hopkins did not take part in FP2 and the family finally finished the rebuild at 03:00 Saturday morning.

FP3 was at 11.05 where Hopkins was able to set a 1:39.964 placing him 26th overall.

Qualifying

A few hours later at Hopkins returned to the Cheshire circuit for qualifying one. The riders have just 12 minutes to register their fastest lap time. Hopkins was able to reduce his lap time to 1:39.320 which meant he would start the first race of the weekend from the middle of row ten in 26th position.    

Race One 12 laps

The conditions were ideal for the first 14 lap race of the weekend. Bright sunshine, no wind and a track temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius. Hopkins was undaunted by the level of competition around him and flew of the starting grid making up four positions on the opening lap. The following lap he crossed the line in 21st position. By the halfway stage of the race Hopkins was running in inside the top twenty in 19th position. By the end of the 14 laps he crossed the line in a very respectable 17th place in his first ever British Superbike race.

Race Two 18 laps

Race two comprised of 18 laps. Grid positions were based on the fastest laps of each rider from the previous race. This meant that Hopkins lined up 24th on the grid. Hopkins made a positive start moving up a position on the first lap. As the race went on he found himself behind the very experienced road racer Dean Harrison. After a much longer stint on the Oulton Park circuit Hopkins crossed the finish line in 20th position.

Race Three 18 laps

Hopkins started 22nd for the final 18-lap race of the weekend. Once the race started Hopkins was soon under pressure from a couple of experienced riders. Both riders eventually passing the number 16. Once they had overtaken Hopkins they started to open a gap. However, by lap 9 of 18 Hopkins was beginning to close up again on the riders ahead. By lap 12 he was the third rider in a battle for 14th position. He moved into 15th position on lap 14 before passing the next rider and taking 14th position on the penultimate lap. Hopkins then when on to take the flag and take an incredible two championship points.

Speaking at the end of a successful weekend, Hopkins said, “That was some turnaround. After the first free practice session I wasn’t sure if we would get the bike out again this weekend. Mum, Dad, my girlfriend Hannah our mechanic and I put in a huge effort and a very late night shift to get the bike back out on track. I think we did really well this weekend all things considered.

“We are a small family team on a tight budget. The bike is basically a standard Honda CBR1000 with a few extras so to score points was amazing and a very welcome surprise in our first outing in British Superbikes.”

Next Up

The second round of the season is to be held at Knockhill on 10th to 11th July.

Images courtesy of Kerry Rawson

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