The 15-year-old from Sittingbourne had been competing on a Moto3 in a BSB Support series and a Kawasaki Ninja 300 in the World Supersport 300 championship and recently the Superteens series of Thundersport, where he won all six races he entered.
However, he has grown too big for either so Hopkins took on a new challenge last weekend. He had his first outing on a new Yamaha R6 in the Bemsee series. Having never raced the Yamaha before he was initially put in the rookie group.
On a damp track on Saturday morning, he qualified third for his first 600cc/100cc combined race. He still had some work to do, however, as the leading rider in the class was 6 seconds ahead. When the race arrived the track was dry and Hopkins was able to set a fastest lap time of 2:03.182 on his way to a maiden victory. He finished 1.9 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
For race 2 the organisers decided Hopkins should join the experienced MRO 600 class but as he hadn’t qualified with the group he had to start from the back of the grid. The track was damp for race two and riders were out on wet tyres. Although he started from 22nd on the combined MRO 600 and clubman 600 grid Hopkins was undaunted by the task. He crossed the finish line 13th overall and 9th in his class.
On the Sunday there were two more races. Based on his lap times on Saturday Hopkins got to start the third race of the weekend in 11th position. On a drying track he manged to finish 6th in a fantastically close battle that saw him just nine tenths behind the rider who crossed the line in second position.
For the final race Hopkins started in the middle of row two. Conditions were dry for the riders but Hopkins had a difficult start dropping to tenth position on the first lap. After falling to 11th the lap after Hopkins began to make his recovery. He made up two places on lap three and by the end of the race crossed the line to finish 8th in the MRO 600 class.
Hopkins said,” The first race we didn’t have any idea how I would do, so the organisers put me in the rookie class as it was my first time on the 600. My win surprised everyone so the organisers asked if I would move into the main 600 class. It was great because I got to ride and learn from some really experienced 600 racers. A win in the rookies then three top ten finishes in the main class was a pretty good start.”
(Photo: Hilary Hardy)