BSB 2011 – Round 12 – Brands Hatch GP
– Hill takes BSB Title by 0.006 of a second over Hopkins
1.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha)
2.Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.396s
3.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +8.766s
4.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +8.873s
5.James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +9.007s
6.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +11.681s
Sunday race one:
1 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
2 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.150s
3 James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +11.994s
4 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +12.825s
5 Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +23.993s
6 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +27.829s
7 Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +29.403s
8 James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +40.713s
9 Dan Linfoot (Tyco Honda) +46.981s
10 Karl Harris (Splitlath Aprilia) +49.918s
Sunday race two:
1 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +4.434s
3 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +4.440s
4 James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +4.679s
5 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +4.782s
6 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.785s
7 Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +12.253s
8 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +15.963s
9 Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +16.130s
10 James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +24.203s
Final MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
1 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 647
2 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 645
3 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 625
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 601
5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 598
6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 526
7 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 210
Tommy Hill was crowned the MCE Insurance British Superbike Champion after one of the most thrilling and intense last laps ever seen at Brands Hatch. Riding the Swan Yamaha Hill held off the fierce challenges of his rival for the crown John Hopkins by inches to take the second place that to him was just champion.
The late drama came on an afternoon of drama and incident. Hopkins had seen the 11 points lead he had amassed over Hill with his third place in the first race of the weekend slashed to just two as he battled back from a first lap electrical problem that halted his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki at Paddock Hill in the second race. The American managed to re-start his machine and then powered in a damage limitation ride to finish twelfth, with Hill managing only fourth place to leave the two in a “winner takes all finale” in the final race of the season.
Hopkins quickly settled into third place, consolidating that and riding strongly to pull a reasonable gap on Hill. That would have been enough to ensure that Hopkins became the first American to take the British title, but Hill had other ideas and in the final quarter of the race upped the pace and closed in on his Suzuki rival.
Hill crossed the line in third place just ahead of Hopkins at the end of the seventeenth lap, having made the move at Hawthorn, and then the Lingfield rider set his sights on taking over in second place from Sorrymate.com Honda’s James Ellison. Hill was through to second on the penultimate lap but Hopkins was responding strongly, also shaking off Ellison to pile the pressure onto Hill.
Hill was defending his line through Paddock Hill Bend but Hopkins found a way through and that prompted the most amazing lap ever seen at the circuit. The two riders traded the lead no less than five times but it was Hill who had the advantage coming through Clearways. Hopkins all but levelled but Hill took the verdict by inches, or by official timing 0.006secs.
“Magic, absolutely unbelievable – I didn’t know that I had beaten him until I saw the reaction of the crowd,” said Hill as he avenged the bitter moment of last year’s final round at Oulton Park when a crash cost him the crown.
“Winning the title means everything to me – that last lap was amazing, it was BSB wanted and I gave it to them. I just got into the rhythm and rode as hard as I could so to come out on top like this is just so special.
“I’m gobsmacked. I’ve tried to stay as relaxed as possible since receiving the trophy. The season puts a lot of pressure and that reflects on everyone. It was just a shock that a whole season can come down to that. I wanted it badly and it was do or die,” added the delighted Hill who took the title 647-645 over Hopkins who said: “Hats off to him, he won. There was nothing more that I could have done.”
Third place in the overall standings went to HM Plant Honda’s former two times title winner Shane Byrne. He had a bitter sweet weekend at the races, with a heavy crash in qualifying but finishing sixth in Saturday’s race which was won by Swan Yamaha’s Michael Laverty. Then after slipping off in the morning damp warm-up practice Byrne bounced back to take a comfortable winning double increasing his winning tally over the season to six.
Jon Kirkham finished second to Byrne in Sunday’s opening race in which James Ellison finishing third gave the Sorrymate.com Honda team their first ever BSB podium finish a result the Cumbrian rider came within a tenth of a second of matching in the final race of the season.
Graeme Gowland ensured second place in the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class with a hat-trick of victories aboard his WFR Honda. He has won all but three of the last 16 races in the class which has been won by his team-mate Glen Richards.
– Samsung Crescent Suzuki Report
Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki’s John Hopkins has missed out on the British Superbike Championship by the smallest ever recorded deficit: 0.006-seconds.
In a day of tough breaks at the final round of the 2011 British Superbike Championship, Hopkins suffered an electrical glitch on the first lap of the first race today but was able to reset the bike’s ignition trackside and recovered from last place to 12th. His championship rival Tommy Hill meanwhile finished fourth, to narrow Hopkins’ Championship lead to just two points. Hopkins’ team-mate Jon Kirkham was able to help in damage control by placing a second ahead of Hill.
In the final race of the series, Hopkins held third place for 16 laps before being passed by Hill. Both then passed James Ellison to be second and third going into the last lap with the gap between them just 0.060-seconds. In a lap which saw countless passes and re-passing, their race – and the Championship – was decided by the final lunge for the finish line which Hill made by the smallest advantage measurable. Kirkham had been challenging for fifth place when he crashed (uninjured) at Druids on the fifth lap.
John Hopkins: “Well I don’t feel great obviously, but I don’t feel completely empty either. This has been a great season, I gave it everything I had but it just wasn’t to be. So hats off to Tommy for taking the title.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to the Samsung Crescent Racing team: They gave me everything including the best bike out there. I came into this year on a make-or-break basis and I’m hugely grateful.”
Jon Kirkham: “I had a great first race today. It was good to show what I could do and to be on the podium again was brilliant as it secured me the Riders’ Cup, for being ‘best of the rest’ ( as the first non Title Fighter!
“In the second race I didn’t have the rear tyre performance I had for the first, it was spinning up and when I pushed it – I really wanted to be in the top-five there, helping Hopper – it just let go.
“I sit here now and the year has just gone so quick; it’s been an enjoyable year and to race with the Samsung Crescent Racing team has been brilliant. Big thanks to them for a giving me such a great year.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager: “I’m speechless. It’s impossible to put into words how this feels. It’s hugely disappointing, yet I find I’m happy as well – I think that’s the pride I feel for the team. What they’ve achieved this year has been brilliant; an unbelievable job.
“Racing will always be a story of ‘ifs and buts’ and we’ve plenty of those to take away from this weekend – what if Hopper’s electrics hadn’t suffered that glitch in the first race; what if JK had stayed on and got in the mix? But the story of the Championship isn’t down to one or two isolated moments like those; there’s more to it than that and everyone has those moments during the year. We just have to take away the positives. We were there and we got to within literally an inch or so of the title. We did everything we could.
“So I’d like to say a big thank you back to my riders as well, I’ve appreciated everything they’ve done this season. Hopper has been an inspirational rider to work with, very giving, very open and always positive – we’ll have so many great memories of this season with him. JK has been through an incredible journey this year, making the step up to the big time and today he showed he’s now one of Britain’s top riders for sure. Then huge thanks to Lez and Dale and their crews; all of them have been incredibly professional – and inspirational – this season. It’s been a great team. And finally, to Samsung, FIXI and all our sponsors – thanks for everything. Without their support we wouldn’t be here. The support has been brilliant. We hope they enjoyed the ride as much as we did.
“One more thing, then: bring on 2012!”