John Hopkins will go into the final round of the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship with an advantage of eight points over Tommy Hill after scoring a win and a third place at Silverstone.
The Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider had gone into the weekend fearing he would be in 'damage limitation' mode courtesy of the finger surgery he had been required to have prior to the second 'title showdown' round.
However, despite limiting his involvement through practice, Hopkins was still able to qualify in second before pouncing on Michael Laverty to take victory in the opening race of the day around the Northamptonshire circuit.
“Part of me knew we were in damage limitation mode as I was sure I'd have fight through the pain barrier at some point, with my finger only days after major surgery. The team, though, made my job much easier by giving me such a good set-up based on the limited number of laps we did in practice and qualifying – I need to say it's a massive thanks to them.
"The first race – well, I won! It wasn't easy and Michael Laverty was tough opposition, even when I passed him I couldn't drop him, so I was relieved to take the chequered flag.”
Working hard to keep the swelling down on his finger for race two, Hopkins looked on course for another double, but became embroiled in an intense fight for the lead when he couldn't break the pack. In the end, poor rear grip would consign him to third position, allowing Hill to get the margin back down to eight points with one round and three races to go.
"Then we had a real race on our hands – my hand – to get the swelling out of my finger before race two. The team had a specialist work with me over the weekend, and through icing, then laser treatment and elevating we kept on top of it.
"Race two was difficult as I didn't have the grip from the rear tyre that I'd had in the first race. It was sliding around from the beginning and while I tried to conserve it I was struggling toward the end of the race. I was still able to challenge Tommy Hill for second, but with the red flag coming out with a lap to go I ran out of time."