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Hill victorious as Hopkins crashes

Sunday, July 17 2011

Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill secured his first Oulton Park race win in the opening MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship race this afternoon as title rival Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins crashed out of the lead.

Hill said: "I just pushed on in that race; it was never going to be easy but it feels great to have the Swan Yamaha back on the top step of the podium. The conditions weren't the best with the rain but I just had to keep my concentration and just make sure I didn't crash. I think the team probably wanted me to slow down but I just didn't want to lose that win! It would be nice if we can do the same again now in race two."

Hopkins took the holeshot into Old Hall for the first time ahead of Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Hill, but Tyco Honda's Patric Muff had his race ended on the opening corner as he crashed out unhurt.

Byrne was in the slipstream and he took the lead from Hopkins in the run down Lakeside on the opening lap with Hill still third. It was double disappointment for Tyco Honda as Peter Hickman then crashed out at Lodge as the pack streamed round to complete the first lap.

Byrne then held the lead but on the third lap Hopkins was back on the assault and he got alongside his HM Plant Honda rival at Lakeside and looked set to regain the lead, but Byrne edged back in front to take the lead into Shell Oils corner. Michael Laverty meanwhile moved up to sixth ahead of MSS Colchester Kawasaki's Gary Mason on the same lap.

A lap later and Hopkins snatched the lead at Shell Oils corner to push Byrne back to second and then on lap five the inseparable trio were again dicing as Hill went second ahead of the championship leader at Island Bend but then Byrne went back ahead at Shell Oils corner.

Relentless Suzuki's Josh Brookes was closing though and on the fifth lap he went up to fourth ahead of the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati of Michael Rutter at Hizzy's chicane. However there was drama at the end of the lap as race leader Hopkins slid off at Lodge and handed the lead back to title rival Byrne and he was out of contention. Karl Harris was also another rider to crash out on that lap from his top ten placing at Hizzys.

Hopkins' crash bought out the Nissan GTR Safety Car and as the pack formed up behind it at the start of the eighth lap it was Hill who was the new race leader ahead of Byrne, Brookes, Rutter and Laverty.

The race resumed at the start of the tenth lap and Brookes was instantly on the attack as the Relentless Suzuki dived ahead of Byrne at Lodge on the brakes to move second. The HM Plant Honda rider was then coming under pressure from Rutter on the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati and he went for the inside line at Island Bend on the eleventh lap, but it didn't last as Byrne was back ahead by the time the pair reached Shell Oil's corner.

Hill edged ahead to take his fourth win of the season from Brookes but third place was decided at Lodge on the final lap as Rutter took the inside line into Lodge from Byrne and with little separating the pair the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati rider stole the final podium finish.

Mason was able to fend off the challenges from Laverty with Loris Baz the leading Motorpoint Yamaha rider in seventh ahead of team-mate James Westmoreland. Jon Kirkham scored another top ten finish for the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki team with an impressive final lap from Scott Smart on the Moto Rapido Ducati finishing tenth. Ryuichi Kiyonari had a dissapointing opening race and finished 15th.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, race one result:

1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)
2. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +5.492s
3. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +5.669s
4. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +5.755s
5. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +6.789s
6. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +7.128s
7. Loris Baz (Mot