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Hopkins steals pole from Hill in dying seconds

Saturday, July 16 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins took a sensational pole position at Oulton Park this afternoon after a flying final lap meant the American stole the top spot from Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill in the dying seconds.

In the opening qualifying session there were several of the title contenders who had a spell at the top of the times initially led by Tommy Hill with just a minute later Shane 'Shakey' Byrne bettering his Swan Yamaha rival to move fastest. Hopkins then was on the charge on the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki and with just over then minutes remaining he moved back to the top of the times, where he remained until the chequered flag.

Laverty was improving throughout and he shot up to second as many of his rivals had returned to the pits in the final stages and he was able to nudge his team-mate Hill back to third. Ryuichi Kiyonari was the leading HM Plant Honda in fourth in the opening Q1 session whilst Alex Lowes and MSS Colchester Kawasaki had clearly solved some of the technical issues they had encountered earlier in the weekend as he ended the first session fifth fastest.

In the second session Hill was able to retaliate and keep his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rival behind him in the closing stages to put the Swan Yamaha fastest. Hill maintained his position at the top ahead of Hopkins as a dramatic improvement from the two Motorpoint Yamahas in the final seconds dropped Michael Rutter and Chris Walker outside the top ten. Laverty was again inside the top three ahead of Byrne and the improving Loris Baz who went fifth fastest in the dying seconds to displace team-mate James Westmoreland to sixth. Kiyonari was seventh ahead of Lowes, Peter Hickman and Josh Brookes who held on to tenth in the final stages.

Hill was back on top in Q3 and it looked like he would secure his third pole position of the season but in the final seconds Hopkins stole it away to take his second consecutive pole position. Laverty and Byrne complete the front row as Kiyonari got nudged back to fifth ahead of Baz on the Motorpoint Yamaha with Lowes and Hickman completing row two.

Graeme Gowland on the WFR Honda was the fastest Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo rider in 16th.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, qualifying result:

1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 1m:35.142s
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.105s
3. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.388s
4. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.794s
5. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.920s
6. Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.930s
7. Alex Lowes (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +1.224s
8. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +1.390s
9. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +1.455s
10. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +1.484s

The first BSB race of the weekend starts at 13:00 tomorrow (Sunday).

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