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Hopkins topples title rivals Hill and Byrne in first practice

Friday, July 15 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins toppled his main title rivals Tommy Hill and Shane 'Shakey' Byrne in the final minutes of the opening free practice session at Oulton Park this morning as the session was red flagged with just over three minutes remaining.

In the opening ten minutes of the session Byrne took the first advantage on the HM Plant Honda ahead of James Ellison who makes his return to BSB this weekend with the Sorrymate.com Honda team.

James Westmoreland then took a spell at the top of the times as the Motorpoint Yamaha rider edged ahead, only to later crash out unhurt at Druids at the halfway point of the session which left him unable to improve and ending the session in seventh.

Hopkins then went fastest as there was 40 minutes left of the session; the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider pulling together a string of laps to remain fastest ahead of Westmoreland and Hill.

Byrne then was on a charge and he stole the top spot back from his American rival as the session reached the final 20 minutes, but then it was Hill who improved to move fastest for the first time in the session ahead of Byrne and Hopkins.

Karl Harris had a disappointing start to his weekend on his return to the Splitlath Aprilia team when he was running inside the top twenty, but crashed out at Druids with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Hill held the top spot until the final four minutes when Hopkins went back ahead of the Swan Yamaha rider, before the red flag when Buildbase BMW's John Laverty crashed on the start line, he was taken to the medical centre for further assessment.

Ellison remained inside the top five on his return to BSB ahead of MSS Colchester Kawasaki's Gary Mason who continued to improve throughout the session, as team-mate Alex Lowes was adjusting to the Cheshire circuit in 19th.

Swan Yamaha's Michael Laverty moved up the order to sixth in the final ten minutes, whilst Westmoreland remained in seventh position. Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati Michael Rutter was consistently inside the top ten in eighth place at the end of the session whilst Josh Brookes moved into ninth with Chris Walker rounding out the top ten.

Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo title leader Glen Richards led the Evo charge from team-mate Graeme Gowland.

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

1. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 1m:36.006s
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.396s
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.861s
4. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +1.127s
5. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +1.141s
6. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +1.244s
7. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +1.396s
8. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +1.466s
9. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +1.476s
10. Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +1.716s

Adult tickets for the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park cost 10 on practice day (Friday), 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.