FAWKHAM, KENT, ENGLAND - Samsung Crescent Racing's John Hopkins (Suz) lost ground to points leader Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) in the British Superbike Championship by finishing third to the winning Englishman in the first Superbike race of the day at Brands Hatch. Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill was second.Hill got the jump on the 29-rider field with Kawasaki World Superbike's Joan Lascorz in pursuit, along with Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors Bathams Ducati) Byrne, Broc Parkes (Kawasaki WSB) and Hopkins.On the second lap Hill led Rutter and Byrne, both of whom had passed Lascorz, and on the fourth lap Byrne dropped Rutter to third. Hopkins had taken Lascorz for fourth on the second lap and was about to cut into the gap to the lead trio.Byrne passed Hill on the sixth lap and waited for the attack. It came on the 13th lap, but Hill overshot the first corner and had to slow down, allowing Byrne back to the front. That's where he'd stay over the final seven laps, winning his first race since the second leg at Thruxton at the end of May."We've had probably the most difficult weekend we had so far," Byrne said after his fourth win of the year, this one by .580 sec. "In terms of flying laps around the whole circuit, we had 12-15 laps in total. And some of those were to make sure we didn't overheat." He added, "We're massively, massively underprepared."Hopkins made his move on Rutter in the Surtees left on the 13th lap, quickly opening a gap. Then came his march to the front, which was steady, but not quite strong enough. Hopkins closed to within half a second ending the 18th lap, but the next lap he was more than a second behind and would be 1.273 secs. back at the end.The Californian explained that he was having electronics problems that affected his shifting. He'd crashed in the morning warm-up when he hit a false neutral and the team had to rebuild the Suzuki GSX-R1000 for the race. They replaced the motor and adjusted the gearbox. That fixed the false neutral problem, but changed his shifting patterns."I mean, we're just having a couple little electrical issues," he said. "I crashed this morning in morning warm-up." The Suzuki wasn't going into neutral in the race, but it was getting stuck a gear higher than normal in a couple of corners. But, Hopkins added, "At the end of the day those guys were working awesome."Heading into this afternoon's second race Hopkins has 211 points to 239 for Byrne. Hill is third with 185.WFR Racing's Jake Zemke finished sixth in the EVO class.Race One:1. Shane Byrne (Ducati)

2. Tommy Hill (Yamaha)

3. John Hopkins (Suzuki)

4. Michael Laverty (Yamaha)

5. Michael Rutter (Ducati)

6. Josh Brookes (Suzuki)

7. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki)

8. Jon Kirkham (Suzuki)

9. Martin Jessopp (Ducati)

10. Peter Hickman (Honda)

 

 

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Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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