Superbikes set to draw 30,000 fans to Knockhill
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REVVED UP: Superbikes stars Jon Kirkham and John Hopkins are looking forward to this weekend's races at Knockill.
Picture: Jim Payne
UP TO 30,000 bike fans are expected to flock to Knockhill when the pinnacle of two-wheel sport in the UK makes its annual pilgrimage north of the border.
The fifth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship will roar into West Fife over this weekend.
Bike fans will get the chance to see stunning elbow-to-elbow action around Knockhill's twists and turns at speeds reaching 180mph.
This year will see the debut of American MotoGP star John 'Hopper' Hopkins, who will lock horns with returning Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Hopkins sits 15 points behind leader Byrne in the championship table and is bidding to become the first rider from the USA to secure the title.
'Hopper', who has achieved five podiums from his last six races, spoke to Press Sport after sizing up the Knockhill track in a practice session.
He said, "It's a tight circuit that has got some hills to it and, after seeing the layout, I'm feeling pretty confident.
"I seemed to adapt pretty well to the track and our lap times in comparison to what people have done in the past seem good.
"It's a circuit that's got some hard braking and fast corners. Considering how small it is it's got it all packed into a short course and I enjoy short, small, quirky circuits so it's been fun."
Returning to the track for the first time since crashing out in the opening race at Brands Hatch will be home favourite Dennis Hobbs.
The Kelty-based rider, who will be competing in the 'Evolution' class, has been out injured ever since and can't wait to give the fans something to cheer over the weekend.
"It will be a fantastic spectacle as the racing is always action-packed with plenty of overtaking and plenty of incidents," said Hobbs.
"I got injured at Brands Hatch in the first round so I've not done a race yet.
"I broke a few bones in my foot, a few ribs and had a bruised lung but I'm now pretty much fighting fit and ready to rock and roll.
"I'm feeling good and it's a small, challenging track here so hopefully it shouldn't take me too long to get up to speed.
"Fingers crossed it can be a good return to action. The track is only six miles from my house so I can sleep in my own bed before going to the circuit the next day and hopefully have a good weekend."
Practice sessions take place on the Friday with qualifying on the Saturday, culminating in the Swan Role for Pole as the top competitors vie for pole position, before the riders compete flat out around the 1.3-mile circuit on race day Sunday.
Among the crowd will be the only man to have won three successive British Superbike championships, Niall McKenzie, who is certain the fans will be in for an amazing show.
He said, "Knockhill, both for car and bikes, produces really close, exciting racing plus you get in the middle here and can see absolutely everything.
"The British Superbike Championship is the best it's ever been. It's ultra competitive with a different story and different winners every weekend and a huge range of nationalities involved.
"This is the motorsport event of the year in Scotland with massive crowds and a great atmosphere and because it's small and compact, riders love coming here too."
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Jun 16, 12:44