Samsung Crescent Racing's John Hopkins has qualified his GSX-R1000 Suzuki on the front row for the 10th round of the 2011 British Superbike Championship at Donington Park as team-mate Jon Kirkham qualified in sixth for a second-row start.
In his first ride back after injuring his fingers at the Czech MotoGP round, Hopkins ran top-two through practice, went fastest in first qualifying before settling for P3 for a front-row start tomorrow. Kirkham has also enjoyed a strong start to the weekend, and after finishing practice fifth fastest, took P6 for a second-row start in tomorrow's first race.
"This has been a great return. I'm very happy with my bike and while my third finger - which the doctors took the pins from on Tuesday morning - needs icing after each ride, it's not causing me issues on the bike. I could have pushed harder today in final qualifying but the real action must be saved for tomorrow. But starting from P3 is good enough.
"Qualifying is just one aspect of the weekend; we've also been working very hard on our race set-up and I'm confident we've got the package to do the job tomorrow. Adrenaline will deal with any niggles my third finger might want to bring, so for me it's not an issue. And don't be confused; this was just the warm up. The fight comes tomorrow."
"I'm stoked. Okay front row would be better, but I ran into a slight issue with tyres halfway through qualifying and that meant I ran a part-worn for Q3, so couldn't do the times I wanted. But second row - and in good company - I can work it from there. It's terrific to be at the pointy-end again; since Brands Hatch it's been getting better and better. I'm really looking forward to two very strong races tomorrow."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I couldn't be happier. Hopper is back and he's right on the money, but as well, our second rider 'JK' is bang in there as well. Practice and qualifying have gone very well; we've had a few small hiccups, like Jon slipping off in third practice, but nothing's stood in the way of progress. Both riders have qualified well and feel confident in their race set-ups - just what the doctor ordered.
"This is a great circuit and our riders - and the whole team I think - are responding to that, we've got a buzz and expectation of doing a proper job tomorrow as this amazing Showdown phase gets underway. Hopper's said he'll race for the win and he means it; he's a straight talker. I think we can anticipate some cracking racing!"