Hopkins snatches last gasp Snetterton win
3 July 2011
John Hopkins has won his second British Superbike Championship race of the season after being rewarded for a determined last lap pass on Tommy Hill.
Starting the race from his maiden BSB pole position, Hopkins led through the opening laps, the American establishing a comfortable lead over the chasing pack of Hill and Shane Byrne, the HM Plant Honda rider quickly hauling himself up to third from sixth on the grid.
However, Hopkins's lead would be wiped out by a safety car period on lap five, prompted by an accident involving Tom Tunstall and Hudson Kennaugh.
Though he held that lead at the restart, he ran wide at slow Oggies right-hander to allow both Hill and Byrne through into first and second. Hopkins quickly resumed second from Byrne, but re-passing Hill was proving somewhat tougher.
Nonetheless, Hopkins gradually worked his way onto the tail of Hill and, free from the attentions of Byrne who was settling for third, planted a fine block pass into the first corner of the final lap.
Hill immediately responded by diving up the inside at Montreal, but couldn't get his Yamaha stopped in time, allowing Hopkins back in front. Despite Hill's best efforts to fight back, Hopkins kept it inch perfect to cross the line for the win, a second to go with his Oulton Park triumph.
Hill and Byrne completed the podium to further cement their positions in the top six shootout, the trio now well clear of the battle for sixth.
Further back, Michael Laverty put in a fighting ride to finish in fourth from 12th on the grid, the Swan Yamaha man capitalising on an error by Ryuichi Kiyonari to score some good points. Kiyonari, who dropped from fourth to sixth, recovered to fifth, ahead of Jon Kirkham.
Josh Brookes, a double winner around the former Snetterton layout last season, came home a fairly lonely seventh, while Chris Walker finished as the top Kawasaki rider in eighth having run as high as third on the opening lap.
Loris Baz and Peter Hickman completed the top ten, ahead of Gary Mason, Martin Jessopp, Michael Rutter and James Westmoreland, who was running eighth when an error dropped him to 14th at the chequered flag.
The 15th and final point fell to Graeme Gowland, the WFR Honda rider scoring his first victory in the EVO category, ahead of Simon Andrews, Glen Richards and Jake Zemke.
A fastest lap for Kiyonari will see him take pole position for race two, leading front row of himself, Hopkins, Hill and Byrne.