Team Suzuki Press Office - July 17.
Samsung Crescent Racing's John Hopkins slid-out of the opening race at today's rain-lashed British Superbike Championship round at Oulton Park in Cheshire while leading and on-course for a win..
Although uninjured, he was unable to continue; and with high winds and rain battering the circuit, the meeting was abandoned before the second race.
Hopkins' team-mate Jon Kirkham rode well to secure a ninth-placed finish and sufficient points to lift him into seventh in the BSB Championship Standings.
After promising much, race day at the seventh round of the 2011 BSB Championship was hit by strong winds and rain. The only BSB race was run in wet conditions but, as he promised, Hopkins started well; leaping off
Pole Position to take the holeshot. Hopkins was building a lead when he was unlucky enough to crash at Lodge Corner on the seventh lap.
Kirkham had started that race from 13th, and, after finishing lap one in 14th, fought his way back to ninth to score some solid Championship-bolstering points.
The meeting was abandoned after the race stewards and team managers met to discuss the safety implications of continuing the meeting in such inclement conditions. All agreed, the meeting had to abandoned and the lost races will now be re-scheduled as part of the August Bank Holiday meeting at Cadwell Park.
"Going into that first race, I was feeling confident. I got off to a decent start and I gave it a lap-or-two to find my feet, during which time Shane Byrne came past. My objective then was to make a clean pass on Byrne and to build a lead. I wanted to make a break and avoid any havoc that might come later in the race.
"I was doing nothing adventurous when I slid off at Lodge Corner. Our data-logging showed I was 3km/h slower than my previous entry speed and I was in fact braking lighter, but the front just went away. Sometimes in racing that's just the way it goes...
"My only regret is that we didn't have that second race so I could make amends. But I agree with the decision to abandon. I've still plenty of positives to take away from the weekend and I'm very happy with how my bike and the team are performing. We're still in a very strong position in this championship."
"The conditions today were treacherous and I just wanted to finish that first race. There wasn't much to it other than to do my best. I'd have liked to have ridden a second race as well as we'd worked on some settings for a better wet set-up and I was sure I could get a good result with a bit of a push - but I respect the decision.
"So, on balance; a positive ride for me today. To score some vital points and to jump back up to seventh in the standings isn't a bad outcome."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"A dismal day. The rain and winds robbed us of what could have been a spectacular day's racing.
"Nonetheless, Hopper showed us his true potential this weekend, topping every practice, qualifying; then leading the race. He's shown he means business and is a serious contender for the Championship. He was extremely unlucky to crash; he was doing nothing wrong as all of our data showed us it was situation normal in the cockpit. Hopper was just victim to the variability in the conditions.
"I was happy to see JK put in a good ride, too. It may not seem so dazzling - ninth - but it was a strong, mature ride in difficult conditions and it achieved what was needed, JK's back up to seventh in the Championship. From there, with some decent results, he can yet make the top-six in time for the Showdown."
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship:
1 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)
2 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +5.492s
3 Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +5.669s
4 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +5.755s
5 Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +6.789s
6 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +7.128s
7 Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +13.055s
8 James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +18.699s
9 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +18.960s
10 Scott Smart (Moto Rapido Ducati) +21.619s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
1 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 214
2 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 182
3 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 165
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 129
5 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 121
6 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) 111
7 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 91