News 12 Sep 2011

Hopkins takes over BSB series lead upon return at Donington Park

American John Hopkins dominated at Donington Park on Sunday.

American John Hopkins dominated at Donington Park on Sunday.

John Hopkins moved into the lead in the chase for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown in a dramatic start to the Showdown at Donington Park.

The Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider shrugged aside the pain of the broken fingers on his right hand to double up on wins as some of his Title Fighter riders faltered, giving him a slender three point advantage going into the penultimate round at Silverstone in two weeks time.

Hopkins, bidding to become the first American to win the British crown, had to work hard as he doubled his winning tally in the series.

In the opening race at the Leicestershire circuit he was running fourth of the opening lap adrift of fellow Title Fighters Michael Laverty, Shane Byrne and Tommy Hill, but next time around he was third.

HM Plant Honda’s Byrne was making the running from Swan Yamaha’s Laverty while Hopkins duelled with Hill and by half distance the pack re-shuffled at Goddards as Hill tried to lunge into the lead.

Laverty and Hopkins were the beneficiaries, running at the front of the pack and with four laps to go Hopkins barged in front to take the victory by half a second.

“The adrenalin kicks in and backs off the pain and that was one heck of a race, a lot of fun and it was a case of biding my time as I knew that I could be strong on the brakes at the end,” Hopkins reflected.

Laverty held off his teammate Hill with Byrne fourth ahead of Samsung Crescent’s second rider Jon Kirkham with Relentless Suzuki’s Josh Brookes scoring vital points as Title Fighters packed five of the top six finishing positions.

The one to miss out was reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari who pulled in with a technical problem which the HM Plant Honda team solved by an engine change ahead of the second race.

Laverty made a determined start to the second race, taking the inside line into Redgate Corner on the opening lap, only to collide with Byrne, both crashed but managed to rejoin at the back of the pack.

Hill, who has also had an engine change to his bike in between race, had the lead from Hopkins but not for long as the American charged ahead on the fifth lap before taking the victory, his fourth of the season, by a little under two seconds from Hill.

“I had the pace and put the hammer down and was able to pull a bit of a gap on Tommy,” said Hopkins. “The pain in my hand was severe as the race progresses and I was please when I came round and saw only one lap to go on my pit-board.

“I have to thank the doctor for getting my fingers ready in three weeks. These victories are very special as we remember the 9/11 tragedy, a special day of rememberance, it has been a fantastic day for me,” he added.

Kirkham took third place ahead of Martin Jessopp aboard the Riders Solicitors Bathams Ducati with Brookes fifth from Kiyonari. Byrne salvaged eighth, six places ahead of Laverty.

Graeme Gowland, riding the WFR Honda,won both races in the BSB-EVO class ahead of his teammate James Westmoreland while Glen Richards aboard the team’s third bike took third and fourth place finishes to move nearer to taking the title.

Alastair Seeley completed his third winning double in the Fuchs-Silkolene British Supersport Championship to close within 36 points of Ben Wilson in the title chase in a dramatic Sunday race that was twice red-flagged.

Rain caused the first stoppage with the riders on their tenth lap, just as the action was getting interesting.

Gearlink Kawasaki’s Wilson who had made the early break on the intitial start, after leading the first lap having traded places three times with Seeley, was running 3rd on the third lap. By then Relentless Suzuki rider Seeley led from the Oxford TAG Triumph of Christian Iddon.

Then Paul Young upped the pace, joining the dice at the front, shortly after which the action was red-flagged. Moments later Young fell.

Luckily for him, the positions at the end of the ninth lap were used to sort the grid for the second part which was run over seven laps, with Young making the start.

Seeley again made the early running with Iddon pushing him hard with Young third ahead of Wilson, Billy McConnell and Jimmy Hill.

But after four laps of hard riding, with Seeley running 0.128secs up on Iddon, Supersport Cup pace-maker David Paton’s Double M Yamaha blew-up on the Dunlop Straight and that brought the red flags out for a second time.

That gave Seeley his seventh victory as his title drive intensified, while Young was third and McConnell was fifth.

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