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Hopkins steals it from Hill in final minutes

Friday, July 15 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins threw down the gauntlet to his title rivals after the opening day at Oulton Park as he topped the second free practice session this afternoon as the American again edged ahead of Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill.

Hopkins said after the session: "I am happy with how the weekend has started; this was the circuit I took my first BSB win so I was always looking forward to coming back here. We had a good setting from earlier in the year and we have gone faster today so I am pretty happy with that. We still have more to work on but it was a great way to start the weekend here."

Hopkins had led the way in the opening session and this afternoon as the lap times again began to tumble he maintained his position at the top of the timesheets. Hill had started the session as one of the fastest riders on circuit before Hopkins went fastest in the opening ten minutes.

Hopkins continued to hold the advantage and was increasing his pace throughout before Hill retook the advantage in the final ten minutes to put the Swan Yamaha fastest. It wasn't long before the American retaliated and with just under five minutes remaining Hopkins went fastest, improving on his very final lap of the session to remain 0.322s clear of Hill.

It was disappointment though for the second of the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzukis as Jon Kirkham crashed at Island in the opening ten minutes of the session and was sidelined for the remainder, which left him languishing down the order.

Gary Mason and MSS Colchester Kawasaki ended the session third fastest as he continued to close in on his Suzuki and Yamaha rivals; he had been running second at the halfway point of the session before the improvement from Hill saw him drop back to third. Michael Laverty meanwhile had a steady start to his session and he was soon working his way up the order to run fourth; dropping Josh Brookes back to fifth after a strong start to the second session.

Championship leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was sixth fastest whilst team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari was ninth as the pair continued to work on various changes to the HM Plant Honda ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session. Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati's Michael Rutter separated and Sorrtmate.com Honda's James Ellison separated the pair as they remained inside the top ten. The Buildbase BMW of Ian Lowry rounded out the top ten as Glen Richards again led the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo riders.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, free practice two result:

1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 1m:35.446s
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.322s
3. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +0.804s
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +1.045s
5. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +1.094s
6. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.204s
7. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +1.350s
8. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +1.507s
9. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +1.520s
10. Ian Lowry (Buildbase BMW) +1.571s

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.