John Hopkins and his GSX-R1000 Suzuki stormed to a dominant double victory Sunday at the 10th round of the 2011 British Superbike Championship at Donington Park, putting him in the lead of the BSB Championship with just two rounds to go.
Hopkins' Samsung Crescent Racing team-mate Jon Kirkham was also in great form, fighting for podium finishes and placing 5-3 to strengthen his position as leader in the Rider's Cup - the competition to be the best rider outside of the Showdown's Title Fighters.
"This is a very special double-win for me. It's good to come back from injury and to immediately win and to take over the Championship lead. But as well, this is a day of remembrance back at home for the victims of 9/11, so I'm thinking of those people and their families. This is my tribute to them.
"We enjoyed some great racing today. I was careful to conserve my tyres in the first race and I let the opportunities come to me. Tommy Hill's mistake when passing Shane Byrne played to my advantage and then it was just a matter of planning and waiting for the chance to pass Michael Laverty and that came four laps from home. I had plenty of pace left in the bike and in the tyres to take it from there.
"The second race was actually harder: I got most of the racing done early. I was in the lead by the fourth lap, but the lack of distractions meant the pain in my fingers was very obvious. The bike was awesome though and from half-distance I was able to pull four-tenths a lap on Tommy and once we got to a two-second buffer, I just controlled it from there."
"I'm really pleased. I was looking for two top-fives this weekend, so a fifth and a third is more than job-done. I got caught behind Ryuichi Kiyonari early in the first race and this let the leaders get away; it was only a matter of a couple of seconds, but it's so hard to pull that back given the pace at the front.
"The second race was brilliant fun. I could see from my pit board that I was being chased hard and when Kiyo slowed I had to pass quickly and make something of a break if it wasn't going to get messy. I got my head down and from there to the end of the race I wouldn't let my speed drop. So the gap grew quite comfortably and I was surprised at the end to see Tommy's bike coming into view. To share the podium with John today was fantastic."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It's been a fantastic performance this weekend; from Hopper, JK and the whole team. Hopper went fastest in warm-up this morning and JK was fifth again and that told us we were well-set. In the races both riders seriously-impressed us. Hopper's race craft in race one was brilliant; it was a masterful performance - patient when he needed to be, then so strong and decisive in his attacks. JK might have missed the jump with the leaders but his pace throughout the race was almost identical.
"In the second race Hopper did his work early and settled in for the ride to the flag. JK had his hands full with some tough rivals but brilliantly came out on top; his lap times were within a tenth or two-tenths of Hopper's and on occasion faster. Impressively, he maintained that right through to the last lap and given a couple more laps he'd have given Tommy Hill something of a surprise!
"In all it's been a brilliant weekend: To have Hopper leading the Championship and JK the Riders' Cup is the best possible outcome. Now we look forward to Silverstone in a fortnight's time. That's a great track for us; Hopper set the fastest ever Superbike lap-time there earlier this year when we did the British WSB round, so we can expect more of what we saw this weekend from him. And with JK so resurgent, there's every reason to be excited about our prospects."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Round Ten, Donington Park:
Race one result:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 2 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.480s 3 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.781s 4 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +3.920s 5 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +6.345s 6 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +10.281s 7 Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +13.141s 8 James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +18.578s 9 Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +22.154s 10 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +22.543s
Race two result:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.986s 3 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +3.315s 4 Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +5.978s 5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +8.324s 6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +12.236s 7 James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +12.541s 8 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +22.445s 9 Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +16.308s 10 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +26.746s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 568 2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 565 3 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 543 4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 532 5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 530 6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 518 7 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 172