Hopkins shakes up championship with double podium at Snetterton

Published: 04 July 2011

John Hopkins was the name of the day Sunday at Snetterton for the sixth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike series.

After becoming the first American to take a British Superbike pole Saturday, Samsung Crescent Suzuki’s Hopkins won a hard-fought battle with Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill for the race one victory.

Hopkins had opened up a 1.3 second lead over Hill before the safety car was deployed on lap five for incidents involving Tom Tunstall and Mark Miller. Hill got past Hopkins shortly after the safety car came in and held the position until the final lap when Hopkins moved up the inside of Hill at Riches.

Race two didn’t get any better for Hill when he went down at Montreal while trying to avoid Ryuichi Kiyonari’s HM Plant Honda while Kiyonari and Hopkins battled for the lead.

Hopkins would lead a group containing Kiyonari, Kiyonari’s HM Plant Honda teammate Shane Byrne, and Relentless Suzuki by TAS’s Josh Brookes for much of the race.

The race was red-flagged after six laps when Alex Lowes’ MSS Colchester Kawasaki ZX-10R’s engine gave out on the entrance to Riches. The mess collected Jentin Racing Honda’s Steve Brogan and Buy-Force.com PR Racing Kawasaki’s Simon Andrews.

Brogan collided with the tyre wall, but early reports were that he was talking to medical staff. Andrews suffered a confirmed broken right leg. Both bikes hit the tyre wall at high speed, resulting in both bikes cartwheeling in spectacular fashion not seen since Josh Brookes’ Suzuki at Oulton Park.

After the race was restarted, the same group of four riders remained at the front. But it wasn’t until the penultimate lap that the fireworks really kicked off.

Byrne snuck up the inside of Hopkins at Coram with a lap to go, only for Hopkins to force his way inside of Byrne at Oggies. The move put both men very wide, forcing Byrne into the dirt.

Hopkins told MCN: "Firstly, I need to apologise to Shane for the incident. I didn’t mean for it to happen that way. I’m disappointed with the second race because I abused my tyres too much, too early in the nine-lap restart so it was only a matter of time before Shane passed me."

Kiyonari immediately got past both riders and Brookes was able to get past Hopkins before the lap was over, relegating Hopkins and Byrne to fourth and fifth respectively.