Hopkins making impressive progress on Moto Rapido Ducati

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John Hopkins has made an impressive return to the MCE British Superbike championship, by finishing the opening day of his comeback in seventh place overall – despite never before riding any Ducati let alone the Moto Rapido machine he takes over from the injured Jakub Smrz.

Making his first proper run out on the Panigale, his first time ever riding the Italian manufacturer’s machines, the American admitted afterwards that the majority of this morning was spent simply getting used to the bike.

" We didn't do a whole lot of laps at the first test on the Indy circuit last week, but just enough to get comfortable. It was a good base setting and we went out with a new engine to run in this morning – and spent quite a bit of time in the garage at the beginning of the session - but for me it was to keep getting more comfortable and we boxed that off well, and just made slight improvements to the bike.

“The more laps on the bike, the more impressed I am with it and I think it is a great package. Now that I am starting to speed up a bit there are some improvements to get it to my liking - but so far so good. I think we are pretty happy with the lap times so far as it is only going to get better from there.”

And despite the rapid progress he’s made so far, the team has warned him that the nature of the bike means that the next jump forward will be a lot more difficult for him.

"To be honest I don't want to get ahead of myself as it is such a competitive field out there, but it has been extremely easy to get up to the speed we are at now and the team have said the Ducati is quite an easy bike to get to a certain place, but then it is climbing away that last half second where you have to make fine tuning and improvements with the setting. I expect the next second to come a lot harder than the initial lap time has, but so far, so good.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer