News 17 Jul 2009

WSBK: Stiggy Honda's John Hopkins finds form at Imola test

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The Stiggy Racing Honda Superbike pairing of Leon Haslam and John Hopkins and their Supersport teammates Anthony West and Gianluca Vizziello successfully concluded the official two-day test at the Autodromo di Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola today.

The Stiggy Racing Honda Superbike riders were able to make important progress in the development of their CBR1000RR machines as they tested new suspension components and other updated parts on the 4.9km long Italian track, which will host the 12th round of the World Superbike championship on September 25-27.

John Hopkins recorded the sixth fastest time of 1’49.443s on Thursday morning, but had to sit out the afternoon session and seek medical advice following a near-crash earlier in the test. Medical examination revealed no further damage had been done to his previously injured hip bone.

Leon Haslam, who took the Stiggy Racing Honda to four podiums so far this season, closed the official two-day test in an overall eighth best time of 1’49.555s.

In spite of updated engine parts, Supersport riders Anthony West and Gianluca Vizziello were less fortunate at the Imola track as both riders struggled to set satisfactory lap times. It remains hard to tackle the problem for the Stiggy Racing Honda Supersport team, who finished third in last year’s championship.

John Hopkins – 6th – 1’49.443s:
“I feel like I have completed a good two days of testing here at Imola. It’s my first time here and I used the first day to learn the track and find the right set-up for the machine. My confidence is growing on every lap and the bike really feels the way I want it to be. We only had one set of tyres to test here, but I have been able to lower my lap times on every outing. Unfortunately, the machine lost grip this morning, and when it came back it threw me back in the seat in a hard way. I had to get some x-rays of my hip and decided it would be best to skip the afternoon session.”

Leon Haslam – 8th – 1’49.555s:
“I have finished a good two-days of testing here at Imola today. The heat played a big part in the afternoon session, it was just too hot and hard to improve the lap times. I managed to set the second fastest time on the standard race tyres. We have made good progress with the new front suspension and have tested some different clutches. I am happy with the development we have made here and feel in good shape for the next round at Brno.”

Anthony West – 9th – 1’53.931s:
“I am disappointed with the results here at Imola and I struggled to find my confidence throughout the two days of testing. We have tried a lot of different things, but it was hard to make the progress we set out to achieve here. It was hard to find the right set-up for the machine at this track and as a result of that I am too far away from the front man. Hopefully we can find some more improvement at Brno next week.”

Gianluca Vizziello – 14th – 1’54.778s:
“My test didn’t exactly go to plan. After I set my best result this season at Donington three weeks ago, I am really pushing for further improvement, but I have found it hard to find the rhythm here at Imola. I am still convinced there is a lot more in store though and we will just need to keep on working on the development of the bike.”

Johan Stigefelt, Team Manager:
“I am very happy with the Superbike results. We have tried a lot of different things that we wanted to try for a long time. It is good to see John improving on his bike, it is the first test in which he could actually work on developing the set-up of his machine. Unfortunately, we did not have access to the development tyres like the other teams, and are a little behind in that perspective. John has shown he is very fast and has great potential. Leon has already shown the potential of our machine, and with some new parts arriving for Brno, I am confidently looking forward to the next races.

On the other hand I have to say that I am very disappointed with the Supersport results. We have tested a rebuild engine here which worked well in Brno where we tested last week. The team has worked so hard, but we do not seem to go forward at all. It is frustrating that we cannot succeed with the package we have at the moment and the knowledge that is available within our team. It is just not good enough.”

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