Sittingbourne National Superstock 600 rookie Luke Hopkins performed beyond expectations again last weekend, this time at Oulton Park. He battled through the field from 15th on the grid to cross the finish line in a superb ninth place.
The weekend started with bright sunshine and only a slight breeze for free practice sessions on Saturday. In FP1 Hopkins laid down a lap time of 1:45.310 to finish 13th overall. After some adjustments he was able to reduce his lap time to 1:43.672. This meant the day ended on a positive note with Hopkins moving up to tenth.
On Sunday there was only the one session for the Superstock 600 riders and that was the important 25-minute qualifying period. The glorious weather continued as the 29 riders rode out onto the Cheshire circuit. Managing to complete 15 laps Hopkins improved his time to 1:43.586. However, the 16-year-old was disappointed as they had decided to make some changes to the bike overnight but they went in the wrong direction. Hopkins qualified fifteenth although he had hoped for much more.
Superstock 600 Race
The 14 lap race took place on the Monday and having returned to the settings they had in free practice Hopkins felt confident for the race. He made a steady start to the race losing a regaining a position in the opening two laps. The safety car then came out for the next couple of laps enabling the riders to bunch up behind it. When it went in on lap five Hopkins managed to make up another position. Feeling confident with the bike he was passing a rider each lap making his way towards the top ten. With four laps to go he was tenth but kept pushing eventually crossing the line in a superb ninth place. He has moved up to 6th in the championship on 21 points.
The top riders in the Superstock 600 were invited to compete in the Supersport race. Clearly the stock bikes are not as highly tuned as the Supersport machines so they score points in their own mini Championship. Crossing the finish line 19th he was the first Superstock 600 home and is now joint leader of the Graduates Championship.
Luke Hopkins said,” I can’t be disappointed with the result as it moves me to sixth overall. Although I do wonder where I might have been if we had qualified better. Still it was a really positive weekend and now we need to think about Snetterton. Competing in the Supersport race was a lot of fun and we now are now the joint best Superstock bike in it. Thanks to my Dad for preparing such a good bike for the race and to all my sponsors.”
The next round of the National Superstock 600 championship will be at the Snetterton 300 circuit on the 15 to 17 June.
Photo: Colin Port