John Hopkins maintains his second place position in the 2011 British Superbike Championship after placing second in race one at Knockhill today. Unfortunately he crashed out of the second race in circumstances beyond his control. His Samsung Crescent Racing team-mate Jon Kirkham finished 8-11 to lift himself to eighth in the championship after five rounds.
After wet practice and qualifying, today's races were held in dry conditions, so there was a degree of relearning the track for Hopkins. Nonetheless he learned quickly and while being unable to challenge for the win in race one he was able to defend his second place position when under sustained attack in the closing stages. Jon Kirkham finished eighth.
The second outing proved a major disappointment for Hopkins when a rear tyre issue compromised his race from the very start and eventually led to him crashing out on lap seven. Unwittingly his team-mate Kirkham was brought down in the melee but was able to remount and battle back to 11th place.
John Hopkins: "Race one went well. I'm glad I had that test session here 11 days ago as the knowledge I gained from that certainly helped. I was riding too tight at the beginning to be able to match Tommy Hill, but as the race progressed I understood the track better and so was able to defend my position against Shane Byrne.
"Right from the start of race two I was struggling with an issue that seriously compromised rear grip. This led me to crash when the bike wouldn't slow coming into turn two. As I went down I hit my elbow and shoulder on the kerb and so I'm pretty sore, but I should be okay with some rest.
"Fortunately we're still where we want to be: in the top six, still in second place. And importantly we racked up more podium credits, which are going to be vital come the Showdown. The bike itself was excellent today and I'm sure we'll be battling for podiums again come Snetterton in two weeks time."
Jon Kirkham: "I'm disappointed because I wanted to achieve much more this weekend. We had a brake problem in warm up this morning which meant I didn't sort a dry setting for the races. Then in race one I had rear grip issues, so finished eighth.
"In the second race I started from P13. I made a poor start and then straight after the first pace car I found John and his bike sliding on the track immediately in front of me. I went grass tracking to avoid a collision – and slid off. I was so annoyed with myself that I picked up my bike and rode on aggression through to the finish.
"So, not the weekend I was looking for. I'm looking forward to Snetterton, though; I liked this track when we tested there earlier in the year. I'll be looking to score better points and make that jump back into the top-six."
Jack Valentine, team manager: "Hopper ran another calculated race in the first outing today. With his limited (dry) track knowledge it was always going to be difficult for him to match Hill, but his defense against Byrne at the race end was inspired.
"What happened in the second race was through no fault of his own. A rear grip issue left him with compromised control and he crashed while trying to overcome that. Inadvertently his crash brought about what was probably the ride of the weekend from JK. His charge from lying last (27th) to finish 11th, passing some top riders on the way, was nothing short of brilliant.
"All up, we've certainly had a tough day. We're fortunate that we've really only sustained minor damages so far as the championship goes. Hopper's position looking forward to the Showdown is still very strong and JK has in fact improved his position even if he didn't leapfrog straight into the top-six as we'd hoped.
"So we're looking forward to Snetterton in a fortnight's time. With the new '300' track layout Hopper for once won't be the only track rookie – it'll be the same for everybody. Our goals will remain unchanged: more podium points for Hopper and an uplift to top-six for JK."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Round Five, Knockhill
Race one result:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +8.907s
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +9.123s
4. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +15.354s
5. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +21.816s
6. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +21.823s
7. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +24.920s
8. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +26.558s
9. Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +26.665s
10. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +26.925s
Race two result:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)
2. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +2.464s
3. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +2.728s
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +10.983s
5. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +17.370s
6. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +18.557s
7. Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +19.955s
8. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +20.201s
9. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +21.351s
10. Simon Andrews (Buy-Force.com Kawasaki) +23.787s
11. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +24.136s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Knockhill:
1. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 172
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 141
3. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 120
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 95
5. Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) 89
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 84
8. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 74