John Hopkins extended his lead in the 2011 British Superbike Championship with a win and a third today, at Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. Hopkins will take an eight-point lead to the final three-race round at Brands Hatch GP in a fortnight's time.
Hopkins' Samsung Crescent Racing team-mate Jon Kirkham again proved he can run with the Title Fighters. However in race one he was judged to have jumped the start and was given a ride-through penalty, effectively ending his race. Kirkham rode at his best in the second race as part of the seven-bike leading group, eventually placing sixth.
John Hopkins: "I'm very happy with the weekend's results. Part of me knew we were in damage limitation mode as I was sure I'd have fight through the pain barrier at some point, with my finger only days after major surgery. The team, though, made my job much easier by giving me such a good set-up based on the limited number of laps we did in practice and qualifying – I need to say it's a massive thanks to them.
"The first race – well, I won! It wasn't easy and Michael Laverty was tough opposition, even when I passed him I couldn't drop him, so I was relieved to take the chequered flag.
"Then we had a real race on our hands – my hand – to get the swelling out of my finger before race two. The team had a specialist work with me over the weekend, and through icing, then laser treatment and elevating we kept on top of it.
"Race two was difficult as I didn't have the grip from the rear tyre that I'd had in the first race. It was sliding around from the beginning and while I tried to conserve it I was struggling toward the end of the race. I was still able to challenge Tommy Hill for second, but with the red flag coming out with a lap to go (due to another rider's engine 'blowing up' and putting oil on the track) I ran out of time."
Jon Kirkham: "A good weekend as again I was on the pace. But the jump start in race one was annoying. The starter kept us on the grid for what felt like an age and I could sense my clutch was cooking, then it jumped – I stopped it with the brake, and I was stationary when the race started, but was still judged to have jumped. I was gutted.
"Race two started well because the team had the forethought to get me sorted with a soft tyre in what was left of my first race, so I was able to put in a fast lap for a front row qualifying position. I was pleased I was able to race with the top guys, and passing Shane Byrne I thought I might have a chance of a top-five, but then he passed me back and before I could have another go we got the red flag. But to be less then three-seconds behind the winner I know I have the pace now to regularly ride at the front."
Jack Valentine, team manager: "I'm very pleased with the outcome. Hopper has been magnificent again this weekend, he's riding competitive, controlled races with a badly injured hand – and winning! The effort he's putting in is amazing.
"JK is now at home with the pace of the leaders, he's in there with them and he's putting in passes, his race craft improves with every race and he's able to play the team-mate Hopper needs, dicing with the Title Fighters, taking points from them when he can.
"So I've no complaints, the boys performed. But for the red flag in race two we might have slightly better results on both their accounts. But we're talking 'ifs'; to come away with an eight-point lead in the championship is a great outcome. Just three more races to go..."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship
Round 11, Silverstone
Race one result:
1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing)
2. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.252s
3. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.587s
4. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.897s
5. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.473s
6. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +23.767s
7. Alex Lowes (Motorpoint Yamaha) +24.506s
8. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +26.045s
9. Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +26.921s
10. Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +27.207s
Race two result:
1. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS)
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.633s
3. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.949s
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +2.110s
5. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +2.324s
6. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +2.562s
7. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +2.980s
8. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +15.689s
9. Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +16.269s
10. Dan Linfoot (Tyco Honda) +16.598s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings ahead of Brands Hatch season finale:
1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 609
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)601
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 568
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 565
5. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 565
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 521
7. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 182