Tommy Hill says he is still in shock after winning the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship title in astonishing circumstances at Brands Hatch.
The Swan Yamaha rider came into the event eight points down on arch-rival John Hopkins, but two fourth place finishes, coupled with Hopkins's third and 12th, placed him just two points adrift with the final race of the season remaining.
Though the first three-quarters of the race was a tense procession as Hill trailed Hopkins, it was to prove a mere prelude to a breathtaking final few laps, with Hill overtaking for the first time on lap 17.
However, Hopkins showed his mettle by fighting back on the very final lap, the pair passing each other a total of five times before Hill nosed ahead as they exited the final Clack Curve corner. Sprinting to the finish line, Hill would cross the line just 0.006secs ahead of Hopkins to win the first BSB title for both himself and Shaun Muir Racing.
Admitting he wasn't aware he had even won the title when he finished, Hill says he was in 'complete shock' when he was being congratulated by his fellow racers.
“I am gobsmacked to have won the title for Swan Yamaha; this has been my goal and I was trying to stay as relaxed as possible in that final race. The season has put a lot of pressure on everyone and that reflects on everyone.
“We have been regularly finishing in the top three and that has therefore been the benchmark and the whole of the Swan Yamaha team have been working so hard all year to make this possible. It has just been a complete shock for me and I feel like we should be having another race next weekend now! It wasn't until the other riders started congratulating me that I even realised I had won as it was so close between myself and Hopper.
A dramatic end to an exciting season, Hill's title win comes despite him not winning any of the seven 'showdown' races, though his seven victories during the first portion of the season would ultimately prove crucial in the eventual two point margin he enjoyed over Hopkins.
“It has been a long hard season and it came down to that one race. Everyone wanted a Showdown and that is what we have given them; it really was make or break time and I knew I had to do everything possible to beat Hopper. I knew Michael (Laverty) was behind me, but then when I knew it was Josh (Brookes) I had to just go for it.
“Coming across the line we didn't know who had finished second and with it the title. At the moment I feel like I need someone to punch me or something to bring me back to reality. I just want to go out and race again now! I just want to celebrate now with my family, friends and the whole of the Swan Yamaha team and I need to thank everyone for their support this season.”