John Hopkins and the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati squad are heading to the amazing Assen circuit in Holland this weekend (18-20 September) to do battle in the first of the British Superbike Championship ‘showdown’ rounds. Having only contested the last three events Hopkins is not in the overall title fight, however he is very keen to put some tough races behind him and shake things up at the front of the pack.
John Hopkins said: “I am going in to Assen with extremely positive hopes. We have had unfortunate issues over the past couple of rounds, but we have all the components to do the job. The Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati is a great bike; it is a bike that I am suited to and have gelled to really well. Set-up wise we have a great set-up too, each track we go to we get there and we are able to do the lap time and we are well within the top five in the majority of all the sessions. These are all circuits that are not at my absolute list of top circuits so the next three rounds are all tracks that are very high up on my list of ones I love and enjoy.
“The team are working tirelessly on the reliability issues we have had and they are ones that haven’t arose in the past as we are riding it differently and perhaps slightly harder too. I think those will be sorted out and now the next three tracks, including Assen are ones I really enjoy. I have had highs and lows but we are hoping to end the season on a high. If we can get the most out of myself and the bike then there is no doubt we can be fighting for podiums, if not the top step and we will see if we can mix up the Showdown!
“After the last few rounds myself and the team are hungrier than ever and more even motivated to get the results. We have been speaking since the last round and the plan was always to go into these rounds to fight for podiums but I don’t just want that now, I want to win. I am so frustrated with the past few rounds and a frustrated rider can be an even faster rider so we are hoping we can go for wins at Assen. Hopefully I can be the first rider to win on the Panigale.”
The 2015 Ducati TriOptions Cup title fight took a series of thrilling twists at Cadwell Park last time out (21-23 August) as the field of 30 stunning 899 Panigale machines readies for battle in Holland.
It was 2012 champion Robbie Brown who stole the march on his rivals, storming to race one victory by two seconds. His main championship competitor Morris was wheeled off the grid and could only manage 22nd – the non-score handed the lead to Brown by five points.
The unpredictable one make series was to take another thrilling twist in the second showdown of the weekend, as the tables of fortune were turned for Brown who was forced to sit out the race when technical problems during the warm up prevented him for taking part in the ten-lap thriller. This left the door open for race two pole-sitter Rob Guiver to take an impressive lights to flag win. The Hyside Motorcycles racer dominated proceedings to take the chequered flag four seconds ahead of the chasing pack, smashing the Ducati lap record by over a second in the process.
Brown’s misfortune was compounded by a strong race from Morris who grabbed second place to put himself back at the top of the standings with a 15-point buffer. Guiver’s performance puts him in contention just 22 points in arrears with three events left to run in 2015.
Championship leader Leon Morris said: “Saturday was very disappointing to be wheeled off the grid. I am sorry for Robbie but it just proves that things can change really quickly in the championship and it has levelled things up. We will take that after our race one and look forward to Assen now.”
Race two winner Rob Guiver said: “Before the weekend we thought the championship was out of reach but we have had a mega weekend and things have really turned around for us. It’s game on now for the rest of the year.”
Now the Ducati TriOptions Cup packs up for the annual trip overseas to Assen in Holland. At the 2014 event Dennis Hobbs and Rob Guiver each took victories, and a repeat performance could certainly mix things up this time around.