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Hopkins fastest as Byrne and Kiyo crash

Saturday, July 16 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins topped the third free practice session in the closing seconds at Oulton Park this morning with a lap marginally faster than Michael Laverty as the HM Plant Honda pairing crashed out in the early stages.

Less than five minutes into the wet session Ryuichi Kiyonari and Martin Jessopp initially crashed out at Shell unhurt then championship leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and James Ellison did the same and the session was subsequently red flagged. Karl Harris had also crashed out at Knickerbrook in the opening minutes and he didn't rejoin the session. The track was inspected at Shell before it was resumed shortly after and the HM Plant Honda team worked frantically to get both Byrne and Kiyonari back on circuit.

Ellison had been fastest at the time of the red flag on the Sorrymate.com Honda from Josh Brookes, before Tommy Hill and Swan Yamaha moved ahead and then a minute later it was Laverty who toppled his team-mate.

Byrne was soon back out on track and after 15 minutes in the garage he was back out and working his way up the order to fourth with less than 20 minutes of the session remaining. Hill though was on a charge and he went back ahead of his team-mate and positioned himself at the top of the times until the final ten minutes when Brookes went fastest for the first time this weekend.

Laverty was back on track and with six minutes to go he pushed Brookes back to second again and looked set to hold the top spot until the final minute when Hopkins fired to the top of the times to lead all three free practice sessions. Laverty remained second with Brookes in third and team-mate Hill fourth.

Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati's Michael Rutter was fifth fastest as Kiyonari was able to work his way up the order to sixth in the closing stages on the first of the HM Plant Hondas with team-mate Byrne in seventh. Chris Walker, Peter Hickman and James Ellison rounded out the top ten with Glen Richards the fastest of the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo riders.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, free practice three:

1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 1m:47.313s
2. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.333s
3. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +0.831s
4. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.064s
5. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +1.572s
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +1.788s
7. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.768s
8. Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +1.951s
9. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +2.369s
10. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +2.654s

Adult tickets for the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park cost 12 on qualifying day (Saturday) and 30 on raceday (Sunday), children 12 and under go free. For further information visit www.oultonpark.co.uk or call 0843 453 9000.