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Kirkham wins, Hopper double podiums at Croft

With a win and two further podiums Samsung Crescent Racing have enjoyed a very successful day’s racing at the third round of the British Superbikes Championship at Croft today.

Jon Kirkham enjoyed his first win in BSB in race one, with team-mate John Hopkins placing second. In race two it was John Hopkins on the podium again, with a hard-fought third place. After three rounds of the BSB championship John Hopkins is now second in the championship standings, just three points off the leader, and Jon Kirkham is placed sixth.

In changeable conditions tyre choice was critical for race one. John Hopkins chose intermediate tyres front and rear, Jon Kirkham chose an intermediate front and slick rear. Both choices paid huge dividends as both riders found themselves able to easily pass their competitors. John Hopkins had made a breakaway early in the race, in the company of Gary Mason, but when the pace car came onto the track their gap vanished – and Jon Kirkham joined them. Once the race resumed, on a drying track, Kirkham then found advantage in his tyre choice and was able to pass the leaders and take an assured win ahead of his team-m ate.

Race two started badly when Kirkham – who had started from pole – became the unwitting victim of some wild riding, crashing spectacularly out of fourth position on the first lap. Hopkins meanwhile found himself fighting for grip despite the dry conditions but resisted some determined attacks to secure his second podium of the day.

John Hopkins: “I’ve got to be happy with today. It started well when I went fastest in warm-up. In race one I chose to run tyres I’d never run before – the Pirelli intermediates – and they proved great, I found a lot of confidence in them. I  got up to the pointy end and we’d built up a good lead only for the safety car to come out. As a racer I wasn’t too happy to be passed after that, but seeing as it was my team-mate JK then on a personal level that was awesome, he really deserved that race. I didn’t have the grip to pass him back so by the end I was riding for the points.

“Race two didn’t work out so well, I was struggling for rear wheel grip, so I did what I could and was happy to come away with another podium. Importantly I’ve come away with second place in the points table, just three points off the lead, with a stack more podium points – I’m joint-leading the table there. So for me, a very good day!”

Jon Kirkham: “I really didn’t expect that race one win, I don’t even like those conditions, although being a smooth rider I do tend to get good results from them. I felt very settled  immediately and I remember passing six riders in one lap. But I could see Hopper and Mason had got away so it was a huge benefit to me when the pace car came out. When I took the lead I could barely believe it. Then Hopper came back by, but I could sense I had the better grip – from the slick rear – to take the wi n. Even now I don’t think it’s sunk in – I’ve won a BSB race!

“There’s not much I can say about race two. I was still buzzing from the race one win and so pumped to be on pole again. I didn’t get the best start so I was in fourth place as I rode through Sunny Out when I was hit and crashed out. Both bikes landed on me so I feel pretty beaten up, but luckily no broken bones. It’s a shame as I was looking to collect more points and climb further into the top-six (I was fifth in the standings after race one – Hopper was championship leader!) but there’s always next time.”

Jack Valentine, team manager: “A fantastic conclusion to the weekend. JK’s win in the first race was tremendous. Hopper again displayed such impressive race craft to capture his two podiums – the way he kept Josh Brookes at bay in the second race when he didn’t quite have the gr ip really impressed me. The whole team were gutted for JK when he got taken out and certainly we all feel the stewards were right to issue a warning to that rider. I'd also to repeat Hopper's comments on the Pirelli intermediates – we don't get to use them very often, but what a great tyre!

“Importantly though, we’re now challenging for the title. Hooper joint-leads the podium credits table and lies just three points off the championship lead. JK, too, is now within the top-six Title Fighters, despite his no-score in the second race. We’re just about where we wanted to be, so we’ll be looking for more of the same come Thruxton in 12 days time!"

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Round three, Croft

Race one result:
Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing)
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +2.940s
Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +3.715s
Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +13.335s
Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +14.699s
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +19.433s
Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +22.455s
Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +24.297s
Glen Richards (WFR Honda) +26.063s
Tommy Bridewell (Tyco Honda) +27.747s

Race two result:
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +1.887s
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +2.269s
Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +2.461s
Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +5.517s
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +6.094s
Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +6.748s
Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +8.120s
Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +8.397s
Tommy Bridewell (Tyco Honda) +9.657s  
DNF. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing)

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Croft:
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 95
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 92
Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) 89
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 59
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 57
Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 55