BSB

Brookes and Hopkins win in Title Fight scrap for supremacy

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John Hopkins and Josh Brookes have taken the two race wins at Silverstone as the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Title Fighters battled hard for the podium positions throughout racing ahead of the final championship decider at Brands Hatch in two weeks' time.

With Tommy Hill taking a third and second and Hopkins a win and a third, the American holds the championship lead by 8 points.

"I knew it wouldn't be an easy race and that I would need to get my head down and try and break away, then in the closing stages I had severe pain in the finger but I wasn't sure how many laps were left so just kept pushing," Hopkins said of his first race win.

"It has been tough going so far this weekend and I have been a bit of a hermit when I am not on the bike, I am trying to give the hand rehab! I could see the TV screen in the last section of the track so I knew how close they were and I have to thank the team for giving me an awesome bike."

Even before the start of the race the HM Plant Honda team suffered drama as Ryuichi Kiyonari was moved off the grid as they frantically changed the rear tyre. He then would start from the back row of the grid; however the defending champion formed up in his fourth row position and therefore was giving a ride through penalty. The Title Fighter then had even more of an uphill task on his hands and he could only manage 28th position and in doing so scored no points for his championship defense.

Michael Laverty had taken the hole shot off the line on the Swan Yamaha from Hopkins, Josh Brookes and Tommy Hill. However Jon Kirkham jumped the start on the second of the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki and was therefore issued with a ride through penalty that put him out of contention for the top ten.

On the second lap Brookes had dropped back to fifth as Shane 'Shakey' Byrne moved to fourth behind the Swan Yamaha's and Hopkins; however the Relentless Suzuki by TAS rider charged back into fourth a lap later to regain the position.

Peter Hickman then was another rider to suffer as he crashed his Tyco Honda out of sixth place as he continued to move up the order with a battle in the second pack of riders.

Hopkins then took the lead on the ninth lap at Stowe with a move down the inside which he had attempted several laps before and once he made it stick he defended hard to stay ahead of Laverty and Hill. Brookes was then closing in and he was shadowing Hill but he couldn't make a move stick on the closing laps.

Byrne was able to maintain fifth place ahead of an impressive finish from Graeme Gowland who powered the Mirror.co.uk BSB WFR Honda to sixth after passing Alex Lowes with three laps remaining. Michael Rutter, Martin Jessopp and Tommy Bridewell completed the top ten after they had fought hard throughout the race, with Dan Linfoot dropping outside the top ten in the closing stages.
Aussie Josh Brookes took his first win with the Relentless Suzuki by TAS team
In race two Hopkins took the lead on the opening lap from Michael Laverty and Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, but the Swan Yamaha moved from second to take the lead into Becketts as Byrne moved third at Stowe as the leading Title Fighters barged their way through the first part of the lap.

Laverty was still leading at the start of the second lap from Hopkins, Byrne and Hill as Brookes was sitting seventh and desperate to carve his way through to the front. The Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider snatched the lead into Copse from Laverty. Byrne then moved second ahead of the Swan Yamaha rider into Stowe as the Title Fighters diced for the positions.

Hopkins then held the lead until the fifth lap when Byrne fired the HM Plant Honda into the lead at Stowe, whilst Brookes was clashing with Jon Kirkham on the second Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki for sixth place with the Australian taking the edge.

On the sixth lap the pack streamed through with Byrne leading Hopkins and Laverty, but the Swan Yamaha rider went wide and that allowed Tommy Hill the chance to move up the order as Brookes passed Peter Hickman for fifth.

Hopkins then retook the lead at Stowe from Byrne as the pair duelled at the front. Brookes though was charging through the order and on the eighth lap he made a move on Laverty at Copse. At the front Byrne lined up a pass at Stowe but after the gap was closed the HM Plant Honda rider couldn't make it through and when he sat up he went wide as Hill was then able to move ahead. Brookes was then able to make a move on Byrne as he moved up to second behind Hopkins across the line.

Hill then stormed ahead at Farm to hit the front of the field as Brookes then moved ahead of Hopkins at the Loop, before the American cut back at Brooklands as the Suzuki rivals fought it out. Brookes finally took the second position from Hopkins at Village before he hit the front as he made a sensational move on race leader Hill at Club.

Brookes began to edge a lead as Hill, Hopkins, Laverty and Byrne fought for the final podium positions but as they started their final lap Chris Walker's Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki blew up on the start line and the race was red flagged.

"This is one of the sweetest wins of my career and I feel overwhelmed to win a race like that when you have been really fighting for it," Brookes said after his win.

"I was conscious in the first race of not wanting to make a risky move but then I got angry in the second one after getting pushed around a bit by the other guys and just went for it. I just rode harder and I knew that with some harder passes I could get to the front and it was fun. Now I am just looking forward to Brands Hatch and those final three races as they will be a fight until the end too."

Tommy Hill fought hard for a second place in race two with the Swan Yamaha rider just eight points adrift of leader John Hopkins.

Hill had been pushing hard, but after missing out on victory in both races the Lingfield rider was left disappointed as he prepares for the final end of season Showdown at his home round of Brands Hatch.

"I have mixed emotions for that race as I was pleased that I had John (Hopkins) behind me for the championship, but also I want to win that race badly for myself and the Swan Yamaha team," Hill said. "We had a few issues with set up this weekend and I did struggle with grip but I knew I just had to push on because every point counts. Josh (Brookes) came past me and I wanted to have a go but the championship tapped me on the back of my head and I knew that the points would be critical coming in to Brands Hatch and the last three races."

Main Photo: Race one winner and championship leader John Hopkins

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship:

Race one results:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing)
2 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.252s
3 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.587s
4 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.897s
5 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.473s
6 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +23.767s
7 Alex Lowes (Motorpoint Yamaha) +24.506s
8 Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +26.045s
9 Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +26.921s
10 Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +27.207s

Race two results:
1 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS)
2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.633s
3 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.949s
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +2.110s
5 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +2.324s
6 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +2.562s
7 Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +2.980s
8 Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +15.689s
9 Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +16.269s
10 Dan Linfoot (Tyco Honda) +16.598s

Championship Points:
1 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) 609
2 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 601
3 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 568
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 565
5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 565
6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 521
7 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) 182

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