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Solid weekend for Hopkins
Solid weekend for Hopkins

Round five was at our home track – Brands Hatch. The FP1 and FP2 practice sessions on Friday were really difficult as every time we were about to go out on track it started to rain which made choosing tyres a bit of a lottery.

FP1 was quite wet and really sketchy but FP2 was a lot better and I set my fastest lap on my last lap with a 1:27.681 to finish day one in 29th place.

Saturday dawned with sunshine and blue sky so with a dry track and rapidly climbing temperature I was really able to give it full gas in FP3! I finished the session in 24th place with a best of 1:26.833 and really felt like I was in the groove for the first time all weekend.

To give you an idea of just how competitive BSB is this year, 24th place was just 1.8 seconds off provisional pole at the end of FP3! Unfortunately, the changes we made to the bike going in to qualifying just didn’t work and I really struggled to get the power down so I could only manage a 1:26.973 which put me in 29th place on the grid. For the race, we’d go back to the FP3 settings which gave me much better traction.

Race one on Saturday afternoon was great fun. I made a cracking start and made up five places in to turn one! I After making several passes, I took 19th place which I held to the flag, matching my best result from Knockhill. Moreover my best lap of 1:26.718 was just 1.6 seconds off the fastest lap of the race. I also won the eBay Fast Forward Award for moving up the most places from my grid position to my finishing position; ten places! It just shows how BSB is insanely close this year!

Unfortunately, when my mechanic Remi stripped the bike for routine maintenance on Saturday evening he found a small leak from the gearbox. This meant the motor had to come out replace the offending seal and it was a long night for my mechanics. The boys finally got the bike running again at 1.00 AM on Sunday morning and going in to the 10 minute warm-up session on Sunday morning we were understandably nervous but the bike was mint and we were good to go for race two.

Race two on Sunday was a belter. I made another great start and spent the whole race scrapping with quality riders for pretty much the whole race. There were lots of little battles on my way from 22nd on the grid to 17th at the flag – my best result of the season so far.

Race three was fun. I started P23 and finished P18 but that doesn’t tell the full story. It was such a busy race scrapping in big groups of riders right to the last lap when I passed Dean Harrison to take 18th. I felt really good all weekend.

The bike was great, the team was epic (as usual) and loads of mates turned up to support me and the team which was brilliant. I really feel we’ve turned a corner this weekend and my aim now for the rest of the season is to challenge for points on a regular basis. Roll on Thruxton is three weeks’ time. I can’t wait.

Images courtesy of MotoAero Photography