News 17 Jul 2011

Hopkins takes Outlon Park BSB pole, McConnell wins Supersport race

American John Hopkins has gone from strength to strength in British Superbikes.

American John Hopkins has gone from strength to strength in British Superbikes.

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki’s John Hopkins took a sensational British Superbike pole position at Oulton Park this afternoon after a flying final lap meant the American stole the top spot from Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill in the dying seconds.

“I really wanted pole position after topping the three free practice sessions and this has to be one of my favourite tracks now,” Hopkins commented. “It wasn’t easy thats for sure and I kept seeing 1:35.3s on my board and it was only good enough for second.

“I cruised round for a lap to gather my thoughts and gave it one last go – I just pulled the pin! I knew Tommy was going to be strong but I didn’t want to settle for second. I locked the brakes into Lodge and I honestly thought that was it, but I managed to slide it back and save it.

“I didn’t realise I was on pole until some of the fans were showing me the number one and when I came back into the pitlane the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team were all there and it was an awesome feeling.

“The team have worked hard again and given me a bike that works in all conditions. I have been having so much fun this weekend and the support I have had from the fans has been great. I can’t wait until tomorrow now for the races.”

In the opening qualifying session there were several of the title contenders who had a spell at the top of the times initially led by Tommy Hill with just a minute later Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne bettering his Swan Yamaha rival to move fastest.

Hopkins then was on the charge on the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki and with just over then minutes remaining he moved back to the top of the times, where he remained until the chequered flag.

Laverty was improving throughout and he shot up to second as many of his rivals had returned to the pits in the final stages and he was able to nudge his team-mate Hill back to third.

Ryuichi Kiyonari was the leading HM Plant Honda in fourth in the opening Q1 session whilst Alex Lowes and MSS Colchester Kawasaki had clearly solved some of the technical issues they had encountered earlier in the weekend as he ended the first session fifth fastest.

In the second session Hill was able to retaliate and keep his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rival behind him in the closing stages to put the Swan Yamaha fastest.

Hill maintained his position at the top ahead of Hopkins as a dramatic improvement from the two Motorpoint Yamahas in the final seconds dropped Michael Rutter and Chris Walker outside the top 10.

Laverty was again inside the top three ahead of Byrne and the improving Loris Baz who went fifth fastest in the dying seconds to displace teammate James Westmoreland to sixth.

Kiyonari was seventh ahead of Lowes, Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes, who held on to 10th in the final stages.

Hill was back on top in Q3 and it looked like he would secure his third pole position of the season but in the final seconds Hopkins stole it away to take his second consecutive pole position.

Laverty and Byrne complete the front row as Kiyonari got nudged back to fifth ahead of Baz on the Motorpoint Yamaha with Lowes and Hickman completing row two.

Graeme Gowland on the WFR Honda was the fastest BSB Evo rider in 16th.

In Supersport, Billy McConnell won the last lap dash to the line to take his second victory of the season by inches from the hard charging Ben Wilson who had carved through the pack from a seventh row start with Alastair Seeley who had led going into the final lap a close third.

McConnell’s Oxford TAG Triumph teammate Paul Young finished fourth overall for the round.