Hill shows title credentials with double
19 June 2011
Tommy Hill went a long way to firming his position in the British Superbike Championship 'top six title shootout' after claiming a second win of the day at Knockhill.
Having dominated proceedings during the opening race, the Swan Yamaha rider found things somewhat tougher on this occasion as he was beaten into the opening bends by series leader Shane Byrne.
Indeed, the HM Plant Honda rider, who finished third in race one, battled hard to maintain his position out front, rebuffing two attempts by Hill to pass around the final corner chicane and up over the start-finish straight.
Eventually, Hill made the move stick with just under ten laps to go, whereby he proceeded to gallop to the chequered flag and win by a fairly sizeable 2.4secs.
Byrne held on for second having come under immediate pressure from Hill's team-mate Michael Laverty, the Ulsterman ending his weekend with two good results that have also moved him up into the top six overall.
With two podium finishes, Byrne has stretched away at the top of the standings, though his cause was certainly aided by close rival John Hopkins's failure to finish. The American was running fourth early on, but furious gesticulation to his pit crew and a series of wild moments suggested all was not well with the Worx Crescent Suzuki.
The problems came to a head on lap seven when Hopkins ran wide at turn one and got onto the mud and grass at Duffers Dip. Unable to keep the bike upright, both Hopkins and the Suzuki skated into the path of the field, forcing his team-mate Jon Kirkham and Josh Brookes off their bikes in avoidance. Luckily for the American, neither he nor bike was struck directly, though a rather animated display of frustration signalled his displeasure.
With the top three setting a searing pace, there was a large gap back to fourth place man Ryuichi Kiyonari, who showed glimpses of his best as he worked his way through the pack to score his best finish since Oulton Park.
Fresh from his first top ten finish in race one, James Westmoreland made it a maiden top five result in race two in fifth, ahead of Gary Mason, who got the better of Kawasaki counterpart Chris Walker on the final lap of the race.
Peter Hickman held down eighth after a fighting performance on the Tyco Honda, ahead of Michael Rutter, while PR Kawasaki's Simon Andrews scored his first EVO class win of the season with a run to tenth.
The recovering Kirkham and Brookes collected 11th and 13th, the pair split by Martin Jessopp, while Scott Smart and Dan Linfoot completed the points' paying positions.
In the overall standings, Byrne leads Hopkins now by 31 points, with Hill and Laverty holding down third and fourth. The absent Stuart Easton maintains his place inside the top six with fifth, while Ryuichi Kiyonari occupies sixth.
However, the final spots remain closely fought with Kiyonari, Hickman, Kirkham, Rutter, Mason, Baz and Brookes all separated by a mere 22 points.