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Apr 16, 2014

British Superbike: Hopkins Says He Is Right Where He Wanted To Be Before The Season-Opener

American John Hopkins (21) on his Tyco Suzuki GSX-R1000 British Superbike.

LET THE MCE BRITISH SUPERBIKE BATTLE COMMENCE AT BRANDS HATCH THIS EASTER

The 2014 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship kicks off in Kent this Easter weekend (18-21 April) as the talking stops and the racing starts. A capacity 32 riders representing seven nationalities and six manufacturers will line up for the season opener at Brands Hatch.

Amongst the leading contenders are two triple champions – Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari, nine MCE BSB race winners, plus record-breaking TT race winner Ian Hutchinson, who makes his debut this weekend with FFX Yamaha. Seven other riders are former MCE BSB race winners.

It’s local man Byrne who arrives at his home circuit as the pre-season favourite though, having set a searing pace in testing. The all-time MCE BSB race win record holder (51) is determined to land an unprecedented fourth title this year after missing out to Alex Lowes by the narrowest of margins in 2013.

Byrne said: “I can’t wait to get started. It feels like it has been a long winter but the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team haven’t stood still and testing went really well for us. Brands Hatch is my home round and I want to get the season off to the best possible start. I don’t think you can count on what happened in testing as it is never a true reflection of what will happen at Clearways on the final lap of the race, but I know we have done everything possible to be in the best position for this weekend. If you thought I was determined to win that fourth title last year, all I can say is you‘ve seen nothing yet!”

Australian Josh Brookes heads the international field of protagonists ready to rival Byrne’s title ambitions and after switching to the Milwaukee Yamaha team over the winter. The former championship runner-up is bullish about his chances in 2014.

Brookes said: “I would say I am more confident than I have been in previous years going into a season. I don’t think you can make predictions or single people out as everyone is competition and the first round always sees big improvements compared to testing for some riders. I am satisfied with how testing has gone and now we are ready to race. I feel really comfortable on the Yamaha, so we are in a good range for Brands Hatch and the focus always has to be on winning.”

American John Hopkins last raced at Brands Hatch in 2011, missing out on the title to Tommy Hill by 0.006 seconds in the season finale billed the ‘race of the decade’. He’s returned to the category with Tyco Suzuki haven’t taken a complete break from the sport to recover from hip surgery.

Hopkins said: “I am really looking forward to getting back into a race at Brands Hatch and getting that adrenaline pumping again. Testing has gone well and we have chipped away and made improvements ready for the season. I feel pretty much right on target and right where we wanted to be before the first round. I can’t wait to get started now as I still feel that I have a point to prove in BSB!”

The Indy circuit is renowned for providing great racing and unpredictable results. Byrne, Brookes and Hopkins may be the favourites heading into Brands Hatch but Tommy Bridewell, Chris Walker, Jakub Smrz and Stuart Easton have all shone in testing and will be eager to make the best possible starts to their 2014 campaigns.

The opening round of the MCE British Superbike Championship takes place this Easter weekend (18-21 April). Tickets are available to purchase on the gate. For further information visit brandshatch.co.uk or call the ticket office on 0843 453 9000.

For more information please visit www.britishsuperbike.com