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Top fives for Samsung Crescent racing at Brands Hatch

The Samsung Crescent Racing team came away with two top-five finishes from round one of the British Superbikes championship at Brands Hatch today. Unfortunately the team also suffered a crash and a DNS so that with almost identical scorecards John Hopkins and Jon Kirkham share 10th place in the championship standings.

Race day had started well with Hopkins placing third in morning warm-up with team-mate Kirkham just 0.092s behind in sixth.

In race one Hopkins started well and very quickly was inside the top-six. However, on lap 11, while pushing to make a pass for fifth, Hopkins slid off at Druids. He remounted and was able to regain 17th place by the chequered flag. Kirkham's race didn't start so positively, placing as low as 15th place during the early stages. But, as ever, employing consistency and a very decent turn of speed, Kirkham was able to fight his way back into a brilliant fifth position by the end of the race, barely 3.5-seconds behind the winner.

With good lap times set in race one, both Hopkins and Kirkham had second row start positions for race two. Unfortunately Kirkham's bike suffered a component failure during the warm-up lap and he was unable to start. Hopkins held position from the start and at half-distance was able to move up to fifth, but with the top-four a few too many seconds ahead he was unable to improve on his position before the finish.

John Hopkins: "Not my greatest day, not my worst. We started the day well, we'd made some changes overnight and that made a difference – third fastest, and my personal best of the weekend, in warm-up.

"I was pleased with my start in the first race, I got through some traffic but then got stuck behind Stuart Easton. When it comes down to tenths of a second between you and then next guy then passing isn't easy, and so when I was pushing it into Druids it didn't take much to run wide, and then go down. I picked it back up but couldn't get back into the points.

"I didn't get the best start in race two, in fact I got bumped as I went into turn one and this cost me a few places. Again I found myself coming back though and again finding Stuart Easton mid-race. I took my time second time around and made sure it was a safe pass – I wanted some points from this weekend. After that there was too big a gap to the guys in front and it wasn't worth risking another fall to try and catch them."

Jon Kirkham: "That was an amazing first race. I got a bad start and so had a busy time making back the places. Then just when I'd got up to a decent position I got punted off the track and found I had to do the work all over again. It was mayhem in that race, bikes and riders going in all directions it seemed. I was so pleased to make fifth.

"To not even get to start the second race was really disappointing, I was looking to build on race one. But that's racing. So I'm really looking forward to Oulton Park now, it's one of my favourite tracks."

Jack Valentine, team manager: "The day started so promisingly, but it just didn't go our way. It's frustrating.

"I'm happy with the lads' riding, though. Hopper was right to take a safe strategy to the second half of the second race, to take the points. And JK was brilliant in race one – a few more laps and maybe he could have been on the podium. To be denied a start in the second race because of the failure of a 25p component is tough, but by then JK had already done enough to show he's a serious contender in this championship.

"Of course I'd be happier if we'd had four top-five results, not the two, but others suffered worse. It's a long season, and yet round two of the championship is in just a matter of a few days time. We'll be carrying forward the positives from this weekend."

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Round One, Brands Hatch
Race one result:

Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.154s
Tommy Bridewell (Tyco Honda) +2.667s
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +2.764s
Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +3.408s
Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +4.310s
Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +4.496s
Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +5.090s
Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +5.100s
Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +7.728s
17. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +15.965s

Race two result:
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.142s
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.598s
Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +4.463s
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +10.089s
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +11.984s
Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +13.048s
Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +13.897s
Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +18.431s
Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +18.473s

Championship standings after Brands Hatch:
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 45
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 41
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) 23
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 20
Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) 19
=10. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 11
=10. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 11

The second round of the British Superbikes Championship is at Oulton Park, Cheshire this coming weekend (April 30-May 1).