Hopkins Closes in on BSB Title Lead

Henny Ray Abrams | August 6, 2011

FAWKHAM, KENT, ENGLAND – Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki’s John Hopkins took 13 points out of Shane Byrne’s championship lead with a fourth place finish in changing track conditions at the first of three British Superbike races on the Brands Hatch GP track east of London.The race was won by Relentless Suzuki by TAS rider Josh Brookes (pictured), the Australian fitting intermediates to win his first BSB race of the season. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors Bathams Ducati) raced on slicks to second, with MSS-Colchester Kawasaki’s Gary Mason third, also on intermediates.Rain prior to the start of the race caused race officials to give riders a seven minute practice session, though many riders didn’t take part. With the rain stopping and a likely dry track, tire choice was critical, and every combination from slicks front and rear to full rains populated the 29-rider grid.Kawasaki World Superbike’s Joan Lascorz led lap one and HM Plant’s Shane Byrne led lap two before Brookes took the lead from 13th on the grid on the third lap.Once out front, Brookes made good use of his intermediates to ease away and win his and the team’s first race of the season.”A lot of us on the grid were swapping tires at the last minute trying to get intermediates in,” Brookes said, noting that second place finisher Michael Rutter bravely went out on slicks. “My crew were quick to change the tires. They did a perfect job.”Having qualified on the fourth row, Brookes was concerned he wouldn’t be able to make his way to the front, but “race pace was perfect and I was able to pass people confidently. My boys have the bike working great in race conditions and we’re here to race. We have a win now and we’re happy.”Hopkins, who raced on intermediates, came fourth.Once he got passed, Byrne slid back so quickly that he had to pit to change to slicks. He rejoined the race, but finished 16th, out of the points. With Hopkins earning 13 points, he now trails Byrne by 19, 214 to 195.Also pitting to change tires were HM Plant Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari, the defending national champion; pole-sitter Tommy Hill of Swan Yamaha, and Kawasaki World Superbike’s Broc Parkes.Superbike:1. Josh Brookes (Suzuki)

2. Michael Rutter (Ducati)

3. Gary Mason (Kawasaki)

4. John Hopkins (Suzuki)

5. Chris Walker (Kawasaki)

6. James Westmoreland (Yamaha)

7. Graeme Gowland (Honda)

8. Michael Laverty (Yamaha)

9. Jon Kirkham (Suzuki)

10. Glen Richards (Honda)


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.