Moto Rapido Ducati’s John Hopkins had a plan of action during the MCE British Superbike races at Snetterton and his team’s strategy certainly came to fruition.
Hopkins used the softer compound tyres and they worked well in the hotter conditions at the 300 circuit. The former MotoGP star began the weekend really strongly and in the first qualifying session lapped a 1’47.760 which made him the third quickest rider in that outing and he safely made his way to Q2.
Hopkins looked as if he was a shoe-in to make it all the way to Superpole, but he was blighted by a technical problem, which was the first mechanical issue he has had on the bike for nearly 8000km.
Nevertheless Hopkins, or Hopper as he is more commonly known, came out fighting and in race one knew he had to have a good start from P18 on the grid. He had a plan and stuck to it and was able to conserve the tyre enough to finish race one in eighth.
In race two his crew made minimal changes to the Panigale and only tinkered slightly with the electronics. Hopkins was able to start from the third row in the final outing and his game plan was to get the best start possible, and he did.
With only three laps remaining he improved his pace and was edging ever closer to Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran for the final podium spot, but the Fireblade powered home to clinch third and at the flag Hopkins was just pipped by RAF Reserves Kawasaki’s Jake Dixon. But it was a strong top five finish for the Californian.
“Saturday was a bit of a disaster as we needed a decent qualifying position because here we knew we had so many laps in the tyres before the lap time would drop off and we didn’t want to use them trying to pass people,” said Moto Rapido Ducati’s team boss Steve Moore, speaking to Bikesportnews.com.
“We needed a bit of a conservative setting in the bike this morning to make sure we didn’t use up tyre and John knew that and he knew he had a job to do. For race two we used the info from race one and decided to go for it. The temperature helped us because we used the soft tyre. We were seven tenths off from the podium.
“We ran under lap record pace and we have got a little trick that gets the bike off the line and that helps John and gave him the confidence he needs. He raced every single lap full on. We made a few little electronic changes to the engine braking and that was it between races - it was all about John having a race plan. The race plan here as you can see what Shane and Brookes did was preserve the tyre for the first third of the race.
“So John needed to get to the front stick with them and that is exactly what he did and stuck to plan. We thought we were on for a third with three laps to go, but we struggled more with front tyre wear than rear and that is something we will take to Brands and we are really happy.”