Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki is readying itself for the crucial Showdown phase of the 2011 British Superbike Championship that gets underway this weekend at Donington Park in Leicestershire.
John Hopkins is still recovering from the finger injuries he sustained at the Bruno MotoGP in August, but confirms he fully expects to be able to fight for wins this coming weekend. As the top-six in the Championship start their three-round battle to determine the series Champion, Hopkins says he couldn't be more motivated.
Hopkins' team-mate Jon Kirkham, having narrowly missed inclusion in the Top-Six Title Fighters, begins his own battle to win the Riders' Cup - awarded to the best rider outside of the top-six.
"I'm ready to return to racing. I'm having the last pins out of my middle finger and then I'll have full articulation in all fingers. I've been keeping up my fitness and exercising my hand so I expect to be able to push right from the get-go. I know Donington Park well from my MotoGP years - I love the place - so I'm right on the game there.
"I've been waiting for this phase of the Championship to start and now it's here I can't wait to get stuck in. I can sense this weekend is going to be fantastic, we're all going to be going for it and it's my intention to be right at the very front!"
"The disappointment of missing out on the Title Fighters has been more than made up by the excitement of racing at the front again - and the impending battle to grab the Riders' Cup. That will be no less difficult than trying to make the top-six: There are plenty of riders who have plenty of form right now, but I'm keen to stay in the top-six in the race results and if at any time my being there will help Hopper, then so much the better."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"To say Hopper is ready would be an understatement. He's is literally 'pulling the pin', or pins, as we speak. We've stayed in contact as he's been recuperating back at his home in the States and he's certainly fired-up for this weekend. He's really up for it and I think we can expect him to come out fighting. This is a very exciting point in the Championship, as we literally start all over again and with Donington, Silverstone and Brands being the final rounds - all good venues for Hopper - we can expect a very strong and determined run to the flag from him.
"It's been good to see JK coming back up to speed over the last couple of rounds, and that last race at Cadwell Park really recharged him; there's nothing like racing within sight of the lead to spark up a racer. I think we can expect to see JK getting into the top-six again; with the Riders' Cup there's motivation for him too.
"Within the team we have the bikes ready, all the tools needed to do the job, everything is set for this final stage of the Championship. The energy levels in the team are at an all time high: We're definitely ready!"