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Denning talks Hopkins, title miss and pride

11 October 2011

Paul Denning has come out in bold praise for his Samsung Crescent Suzuki team following the agonising loss of the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship.

Denning, owner of the Crescent outfit that runs Suzuki in MotoGP and BSB, was present to see John Hopkins just miss out on the 2011 title to Tommy Hill at Brands Hatch, but while he admits the loss is a bitter pill to swallow, it does not take away the huge effort of his employees.

Releasing a statement after the event, Denning talks about the Brands Hatch finale, his pleasure in giving Hopkins a career lifeline and even the controversial points' system that got his rider back into the title fight:

“To lose the British Superbike Championship by 0.006 of a second - after such a dramatic season, 26 hard fought races and an incredible final battle - is hard for everybody associated with Samsung Crescent Racing to take, and for John Hopkins it's even harder. That said, the whole team can hold their heads high for playing a pivotal part, and providing such riveting entertainment, in one of the best championships ever.

“When it became clear that Suzuki GB would not be able to support the Crescent team for 2011 in BSB, we understood their situation and could have easily decided to stop racing.

“However, a chat with John towards the end of 2010 got me very motivated to continue the project – it was clear that he was ready to commit to his career on every possible level. To come back from where's he's been, to commit as aggressively as he has on unknown circuits and against fierce competition, to work as hard as he has done all year and to put up with so many difficulties including a horrible mid-season injury, has just been inspirational.

“We've been 100% behind John all year, he's been 100% behind us and it's been a pleasure to see a sportsman banish so many demons in one season, and to gain the respect and admiration of racing enthusiasts and his own competitors around the world. The final race of the season demonstrated John's commitment completely – he could not have given more in his attempt to win, in what will go down as one of the best races in history.

“But John would be the first to say that this story could not have been told without a great team and a great motorcycle. The Crescent prepared Suzuki GSX-R1000 showed its prowess on all tracks and in all conditions and thanks for that must largely go to our chief engineer Lez Pearson who, alongside Suzuki's race department and our technical partners, have developed the bike into an extremely competitive package. The whole team, led by Big Jack, can be very proud of its efforts – thanks to all of you for your spirit and your commitment.

“It was also a pleasure this year to be able to enter with two GSX-R riders, and as a Rookie we couldn't have asked more of Jon Kirkham. He has improved his Superbike riding technique so much over the course of the season, and learnt a lot from Hopper as well. Having just missed the Top-6 shootout, he richly deserved the Riders Cup for 7th overall in the Championship. His focus at Brands Hatch was as much to assist Hopper as it was to get good results for himself, and he ably did that with a 2nd position in Sunday's first race. Thank you Jon, and to your Dad Mick – we've come a long way together during the season!

“To race to win at BSB level requires a great deal of commercial support and I would like to thank all at Samsung Mobile for their trust and commitment. Samsung is a great company to work with and we hope we returned them a good balance of exposure, experience and excitement during 2011. Also to Richard and the guys at Fixi, our superb lubricants partner Motorex, the team at Akrapovic and all our partners large and small – we hope you enjoyed the ride and thank you for everything you bring to the team. Thanks must also go to Martyn James at Crescent Hq for keeping things under control, not always in the easiest of circumstances.

“Finally, I would like to make a comment on the BSB points scoring system. There have been a lot of comments and nonsense spoken about who is the real winner etc. This is ridiculous – all the riders and teams go into the series knowing the regulations and they alter their tactics accordingly. For example, John missed the Cadwell round in order to recover from injury for the start of the shootout, but in a normal points scoring system would have found some way to strap himself to the bike and score some points. Equally, riders will have settled for a certain race position during the main season in order to retain the safe Top 6 overall place, but would have raced differently in a normal situation. So – it is what it is, we were all aiming for the same thing and ultimately the winner of the final race was the rightful Champion. Well done Tommy, huge respect to you and your team.

“Samsung Crescent Racing and John Hopkins may not have become Champions this year but we fought, raced, and conducted ourselves like Champions and I am very proud of everything we achieved in 2011. Roll on 2012!”


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