Brands Hatch BSB: Hill takes championship in photo finish
Tommy Hill has won the 2011 British Superbike championship after beating John Hopkins in the final race of the season by six thousandths of a second.
With just two points separating the pair going into the race, each rider knew all he had to do wrap up the title was finish ahead of the other.
Hill was stuck behind Hopkins for the majority of the race looking unable to make a pass on the American rider, until lap 17 when he made his move past Hopkins and soon after took James Ellison for second place.
Hopkins then also passed Ellison, at Surtees on lap 19, setting up a last lap battle between himself and Hill. Hopkins tried to pass Hill into Paddock Hill bend, but Hill shut the door.
Hopkins passed Hill on the brakes in to Surtees, but ran slightly wide. Hill tried to get the drive early out of the corner, losing the rear under power. Despite this, he was able to slipstream his rival down the next straight and get back ahead at the next corner, Hawthorne - only for Hopkins to return the favour just a few metres later.
Hill struck back immediately with a jaw-dropping all-or-nothing move up the inside of Hopkins at Dingle Dell and had the lead approaching the final turn. Hopkins, though, was later on the brakes and cut inside Hill - but then had to run wide. Hill kept it tight and edged ahead once more, but Hopkins got better drive in the final turn, and was rapidly closing down on Hill in the frantic dash to the flag. They crossed the line together in a photo finish that showed Hill had edged it by less than a wheel's width, wrapping up the title by just two points.
HM Plant Honda rider Shane Byrne won the race in dominant fashion, 4.4secs ahead of Hill. Josh Brookes, starting outside the top 10, had a strong race, and battled his way upto sixth place behind Michael Laverty.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship final, Brands Hatch:
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +4.434s
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +4.440s
James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +4.679s
Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +4.782s
Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.785s
Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +12.253s
Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +15.963s
Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +16.130s
James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +24.203s
Final MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 647
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 645
Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 625
Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 601
Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 598
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 526