Team Suzuki Press Office - October 9.
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.
"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."
"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!"
2011 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship,
Round 12, Brands Hatch
Race two results:
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
11 Patric Muff (Tyco Honda) +53.784s
12 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1:03.528m
Race three results:
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 2011 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