Hopkins: I need to ride the Ducati more tranquilo

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New Moto Rapido Ducati rider John Hopkins says that he needs to perfect the way he rides the Panigale bike to get the best out of it, after a strong start to qualifying failed to pay off for him. He’ll now start tomorrow’s opening race from ninth.

Showing easy lap record pace in the opening two sessions of the MCE British Superbike qualifying, he admitted afterwards that his nerves had got the best of him, leaving him unable to get the best from a machine he’s still learning.

“The Ducati has to be ridden tranquilo though, as the Italians would say! In Q1 and Q2, I just went out and concentrated on hitting my marks, and didn’t have any pressure on me, because I knew we could always get a time to get into the top ten.

“I just went out and concentrated on putting my lines together. In Q2, I was lucky enough to get behind Shane Byrne for a bit, and learned a few lines from him, made it safely through. Then Q3 came along and I just went out and completely screwed it up!

“I’ve never ridden a bike that doesn’t like to be over-ridden before; my style is to attack the bike, with really hard braking. I’ve always ridden machines with a slight power disadvantage, and I’ve always had to make up for that by overriding the bike.

“I just tried too hard – the adrenaline was pumping, the thought of being on the front row was on my mind, and I basically overrode the bike. The team have been telling me all weekend, all the riders say the bike doesn’t like that – the lap time just comes naturally. Unfortunately, I found that out the hard way!”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer