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Hill wins, Hopkins crashes in only Oulton race
17 July 2011
Tommy Hill took a comfortable victory in the only race of a rain-soaked seventh round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park, which saw title contender John Hopkins crash while leading.
Swan Yamaha rider Hill's fourth victory of the campaign ended a run of ill-fortune at the Cheshire circuit, where he had crashed heavily in his two previous outings. The first fall cost him a chance of the 2010 title and he injured his shoulder in the second, earlier this year.
Those incidents were shrugged aside as Hill, narrowly beaten to pole by Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider Hopkins, concentrated on a race that began in difficult conditions.
Series leader Shane Byrne made the early running aboard his HM Plant Honda during an opening lap in which both Peter Hickman and Patric Muff slid out. Hopkins was a close second at that point, followed by Hill with Michael Rutter on the Rapid Solicitors Bathams Ducati in fourth.
Hopkins then grabbed the lead on the fourth lap, but did not hold it for long before he slid off under braking going into Lodge Corner. Further down the pack Karl Harris making his Splitlath Aprilia debut tipped off at Hizzy's.
Byrne was back in front briefly before Hill made his move and, once ahead, was able to dictate terms to the flag.
“I just carried on. The rain was coming down even heavier as the race went on but I felt comfortable just keeping chipping away and getting into a good rhythm and keeping that going through the race," he said.
“The win was just what we needed, and it was a case of using all of the grip we could get. I 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,” added Hill, who finished the race 5.492secs clear of Josh Brookes.
The Aussie had taken over second place on the Relentless Suzuki with five laps to go but was unable to make any inroads into the advantage held by Hill.
By then Byrne was coming under increasing pressure from Rutter and the Ducati rider snatched the final podium spot by a split second after a pass on the final lap at Lodge.
Gary Mason took fifth for MSS Colchester Kawasaki ahead of the second Swan Yamaha in the hands of Michael Laverty.
Then came the Motorpoint Yamaha duo of Loris Baz and James Westmoreland with Jon Kirkham ninth just ahead of the winner of the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class Scott Smart on the Moto Rapido Ducati.
The rain intensified as the afternoon continued and, after several inspections of the circuit, race officials decided on safety grounds that no further racing was possible.
The second Superbike race has been rescheduled to be held at Cadwell Park over the August Bank Holiday weekend, with a decision still to be made on the re-arranged dates of the Fuchs-Silkolene British Supersport Championship and Metzeler National Superstock 600 Championship races.
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