Shakedown at Cartagena

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The four-day Barry Symmons-run Pro-Test kicked off at Cartagena today with former MotoGP star American John Hopkins making his debut on the Samsung Suzuki.

Although primarily an installation day for the competitors, Hopkins said: “New bike, new team, new track. It’s a big learning experience but I’d say we’re ahead of the game already (in terms of the bike) apart from learning the track.

“I’m really enjoying this. The AMA bikes are now little more than streetbikes but this is just like getting on a real race bike again.”

It was also National Superstock champion Jon Kirkham’s first time on the Samsung GSX-R100 and he said: “The stocker I rode last year was a big comfy thing to ride and this feels totally the opposite. It felt really fast down the straight the first time but by the end of the day I felt like we were getting to grips with it.”

Stuart Easton missed the first two sessions today while the MSS Colchester Kawasaki team finished building the new ZX-10. Kawasaki WSB team technician Phil Borley brought a PBM new swing-arm with him, which the team had built into the bike overnight.

“We’re just chipping away,” said Easton, “but I’m pleased with the progress considering I only did the two 25 minute afternoon sessions.

MSS team-mate Gary Mason also missed the first session but got five laps I nthe second morning session – but that was only meant to have been two to check the bike. Mason was having ‘so much fun and wanted t learn about the bike’ that he stayed out until the end of the session.

Josh Brookes was making his Relentless Suzuki debut and said: “I thought the Honda was small and compact compared to the Suzuki but it’s just a visual thing. When I got on the GSX-R100 it feels pretty much the same size-wise when you’re tucked in behind the screen. I really like the bike – the power delivery is really smooth and I already feel right at home with the team.

Michael Rutter crashed the Rapid Solicitors Riders Ducati in the second session of the day, tucking the front in the second last corner on the course – a left-hand hairpin. “I just held the brake too long and down I went,” he said. Rutter was unhurt and the bike only received superficial damage. 

Martin Jessopp is still not full recovered from the leg injured at Mallory last year but was back on track with he Ducati.

Dan Linfoot got three sessions in yesterday during a Hotttrax track day on the SMT Honda before today’s Pro-Test. “It’s very different to which I rode last year. Light, nimble and small. 

"We were just struggling a bit with corner entry, which is something I need to work on,” he said but later in the afternoon session he crashed, unhurt.

Conor Cummins was back on a bike for the first time since his horrendous TT crash last June. He was riding the Black Horse Kawasaki superstocker and told MCN: “My knee’s a bit sore but it just feels so good to be back on a bike again.”

HM Plant Honda and Swan Yamaha had one more day of testing planned at Calafat but the rain came in just after lunchtime to thwart their plans. Both teams are due to arrive at Cartagena tomorrow.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin