Family run team Hopkins Racing made an outstanding start to the Superstock 600 season where they are competing against some riders with factory backing and the budget and setup that goes with that. In his first ever Superstock 600 race Hopkins rode to a very impressive 8th position despite some of his competitors having several year’s experience on a 600cc machine.
Having grown too tall to be competitive on a Moto3 16-year-old Luke Hopkins decided over the winter to switch to a Yamaha R6. For 2018 he has joined the Pirelli National Superstock 600 series in the British Superbike Championship.
The season opener was at Donington Park over the bank holiday weekend. It wasn’t the ideal start for a rookie with the weather being very cold and wet for free practice on the Saturday.
Hopkins had undertaken a few pre-season practice sessions during the off-season and the majority of them had been damp or wet so that may have helped prepare the Sittingbourne youngster for the weekend.
In the first free practice the track was completely wet with running water at the Old Hairpin. Similar to all the riders grip was a real problem. He finished 13th.
Later in the afternoon the rain stopped although the track remained wet. The low temperatures we not helping to dry the surface. Hopkins grew in confidence as he reeled off the laps finishing an amazing third fastest with a time of 1:51.290.
On Sunday morning the Superstock 600 riders were the first on track for their qualifying session. The sun was out and the track was dry although the temperature was still very low. Hopkins sensibly used the 25 minutes to build his confidence and speed on the circuit. He managed a brilliant 8th position on the grid with a lap time of 1:38.350.
The race was originally scheduled for Monday but with the inclement weather the organisers rescheduled some events and Hopkins Superstock 600 race was moved to the early evening of Sunday.
Hopkins made a great start moving into fourth place coming out of the first corner but a couple of errors meant he ended lap one in 11th. It didn’t take him long to start his recovery though. Undaunted by the names around him, and the support some of the riders enjoy, he returned to the top ten by the end of the third lap. Having already shown good pace in free practice and qualifying Hopkins further improved overtaking other rivals to move to eighth position.
Hopkins then managed to keep Josh Wood and the experienced Cameron Lee behind him for the duration of the remaining laps to finish his first ever Superstock 600 race in an unbelievable eighth place and collect his first 8 championship points.
Luke Hopkins said, “I’m so happy. We were up against some really well-known riders in British motorcycle racing with some big budgets behind them. I had felt really positive on this bike throughout winter testing. Free practice was a challenge for everyone but I was really pleased at how well I coped. I would have been happy to get a point so to come away with eight was fantastic. A big thank you to my family and sponsors who help keep me racing.”