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John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins scored his best result of the season to date for his Moto Rapido Ducati team during Race 1 at Oulton Park after battling Leon Haslam for the race win.

Hopper had lined up for the wet race 6th on the grid, but initially lost a position on his opening lap. But by a third race distance Hopper was already up into 3rd position behind Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) and Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW), posting consecutive fastest laps of the race on Laps 7 and 8.

On the next lap Iddon crashed out, promoting Hopper to 2nd and Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) to 3rd. Haslam went on to pass on Hopper for 2nd but Hopper did not let Haslam escape, sticking with the Kawasaki rider as the race entered its final phase.

Linfoot had now built up a sizeable lead but retired on Lap 15 after an engine failure. This meant the fight between Haslam and Hopper was now for the race win. But before Hopper could challenge Haslam the race was Red Flagged, with Linfoot’s bike having caused track contamination between Island Bend and Shell Oils Corner. The premature end to the race denied Hopper a shot at victory but did result in a season-best 2nd place position.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s start to the Showdown didn’t go to plan for the Be Wiser Ducati rider. Shakey was happy with his P2 front row qualifying position and went on to start the race at the front of the pack after pole-sitter Jake Dixon (RAF Regular and Reserves) damaged his bike during the morning Warm Up session and had to start from pit lane.

Unfortunately, Shakey’s race was hampered by poor vision and he dropped positions as it worsened, crossing the chequered flag in 9th position.

His Be Wiser Ducati teammate Glenn Irwin, who won his maiden British Superbike victory at the last round at Silverstone, had failed to make it through to the final qualifying session yesterday and started from 13th. But despite gaining 4 positions on his opening lap, Irwin eventually brought his Panigale home less than a second behind Shakey, finishing 11th.

Hopper’s impressive lap times see him line up for Race 2 on the front row in 3rd place. Shakey starts from 12th with Irwin just behind him in 13th.

John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati #21) – 2nd
“I feel bad for Linfoot. That was a shame, he’d gotten away. I was having some serious visibility issues. Kept having to rub my visor. It was just the track being a little bit dirty. It was just in a battle around the guys I was with. It was a battle with Iddon and he unfortunately went down. And then it was a battle with Leon. But I just wanted to ride my own race, get my head down. I just want to thank the Moto Rapido Ducati guys so much. It’s nice to finally get on the podium and give the guys the results they deserve.”

Oulton Park Race 2: Showdown start does not go to plan at Oulton Park for Shakey