Silverstone BSB: Hopkins ignores pain to top time sheets

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Championship standings ahead of Silverstone:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 568
2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 565
3 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 543
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 532
5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 530
6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 518

John Hopkins topped both free practice session at Silverstone today, despite being in considerable pain with a finger injury, initially sustained at Brno in August. 

With the BSB title on the line, Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider has a three-point lead in the title standings over Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill going Sunday’s penultimate round of the championship (568-565) with Shany Byrne third on 543 followed by Michael Laverty on 532.

Hopper scored a double victory in the previous round at Donington Park but told MCN immediately after the second race that he thought he had done more damage to the finger.

He then flew back home to California for further surgery and had plates and screws inserted to re-inforce the damaged finger

 He said: “That operation needed a massive incision and I have to contend with soft tissue damage and the pain comes from that. The pain level is considerably higher than it was at Donington Park.”

Hopkins’s one advantage going to Sivlerstone was that he had raced as a “wild-card” entry in July’s World Superbike round and gained valuable experience of the track as well as technical data.

He said: “That helped considerably as I was able to keep the laps to a minimum and do what I had to do to be comfortable. The pain is extreme because you don’t get the same adrenalin jolt in practice that you do in qualifying and races. 

“But, we will loosen up by Sunday and be on it and up there somehow.”

Hopkins was half a second quicker than nearest rival Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill, who was 0.185s ahead of his team-mate Michael Laverty.

Byrne was fifth fastest on the HM Plant Honda, 0.25s down on the Jon Kirkham on the second Samsung Crescent Suzuki.

Free practice one:
1.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 2m:07.977s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.601s
3.Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +1.052s
4.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +1.059s
5.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.112s
6.Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +1.192s
Free practice two:
1.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 2m:06.152s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.559s
3.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.744s
4.Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +1.523s
5.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.780s
6.Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +1.804s

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin