ukclubsport.com Zoe Burn
Successful wildcard at Brands Hatch
Hopkins moved from the windswept circuit of Motorland in Spain, where Luke Hopkins competed in the World Supersport 300 championship at the beginning of April, to the short Indy circuit of Brands Hatch last weekend.
Over the bank holiday the Sittingbourne youngster made a wildcard appearance on his Moto3 Honda NSF250R in the Hel Performance Motostar British series. Competing in the standard class series he made a solid start ending free practice one in 8th position. The team decided to make some suspension set-up changes which proved very positive. In free practice two Hopkins shaved seven tenths of a second to move up to seventh fastest with a best lap time of 51.931.
Qualifying took place on Saturday afternoon. With all the Moto3 machines running exactly the same specification of engine the class is really competitive. Luke Hopkins managed to reduce his lap time even further with a time of 51.545, a whole second better than FP1. Despite only being just over a second from the front row, Hopkins best efforts meant he would start 8th in his category.
In race one we made a good start and began to close in on Charlie Atkins in 8th spot, by the mid-way stage. On lap 8 he moved ahead of Atkins as he continued to improve. Then going through Graham Hill bend Hopkins almost high-sided. Although he maintained control he ran onto the grass before re-joining the race. Unfortunately the 15-year-old lost three places. He fought hard and got back in touch with the group crossing the line 11th missing out on a top ten by just 0.022 seconds.
In the opening exchanges of race two Hopkins again had problems at Graham Hill bend. Another high-side almost through him from his Moto3 machine, but once more he controlled the bike. However, he lost a lot of time in the opening lap and lost several places.
Undeterred Hopkins was in tenth position by the end of lap four and already closing in on the riders in front. Two laps later and Hopkins gained another position. Just before the halfway stage of the race Hopkins had fought his way into 8th position and was racing on the back wheel of the rider ahead.
At two-thirds distance he moved into seventh and was involved in a great battle with two other riders for 6th place in the closing laps. In the end, he had to settle for seventh position as he ran out of laps.
Hopkins entered as a wildcard with a view of continuing to get more track time ahead of the next round of the World Supersport 300 championship, but he left with a very creditable fourteen championship points from his weekend’s work.
Luke Hopkins will be back on the world stage at Assen on the 28-30 April.
Luke Hopkins said, “I really enjoyed the weekend. The important thing with these events for me, is to get track time. To come away with two decent results is a bonus. Perhaps without the near crashes at Graham Hill bend I could have done even better but I’m happy enough and looking forward to the next round of the World Supersport 300 Championship.”
Photo: Craig Hobbs Photography.