Published: 06:00, 25 August 2020
Sittingbourne's Luke Hopkins was left to rue what might have been after running off track at Snetterton on Sunday, writes Jeremy Ryan.
He went on to mount an impressive recovery to finish 22nd in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship.
This is Hopkins’ first year in this ultra-competitive class and having scored points in his first race at Donington Park last time out, he has set himself a high target.
He was competing in round two on the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk. The riders had to deal with gale-force winds on Friday during the free practice sessions. Hopkins was 22nd overall of the 37 riders, cutting his lap time by over a second.
The sun shone in qualifying on Saturday but the riders still had to contend with a strong wind. Hopkins was unable to produce his best time from Friday but a 1:54.278 would put him 23rd on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Hopkins made a great start to the 12-lap Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race on Sunday lunchtime. He made up two places in the opening corners.
Unfortunately, an error at the end of the long Bentley Straight on lap two saw him run on. Hopkins dropped eight places in just a few seconds and was running 29th.
On the fourth lap he began to mount his charge back and overtook Jenny Tinmouth. Aided by a couple of crashes higher up the order he found himself in a group of six riders battling for 22nd position.
He and Spanish rider Dani Saez worked their way through these riders and began their own battle for 22nd spot. Hopkins got the upper hand on Saez on lap eight. The two began to close in on the well-known road racer Dean Harrison.
Saez re-took the position from Hopkins as the two former British Moto3 riders continued their pursuit of Harrison. On the penultimate lap the three riders were wheel to wheel with Hopkins finishing 22nd just three-tenths off a top-20 finish.
Hopkins said: "The result doesn’t really reflect all the effort we all put in this weekend.
"At the beginning of the season, I set myself the goal of finishing in the top 25 but after the first round, where I scored points, I suppose I was hoping for more this time out.
"The really positive thing is if I had not made that error early on in the race then I would almost certainly have picked up more points."