Paul Denning has come out in bold praise for his Samsung Crescent Suzuki team following the agonising loss of the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship.
Denning, owner of the Crescent outfit that runs Suzuki in MotoGP and BSB, was present to see John Hopkins just miss out on the 2011 title to Tommy Hill at Brands Hatch, but while he admits the loss is a bitter pill to swallow, it does not take away the huge effort of his employees.
Releasing a statement after the event, Denning talks about the Brands Hatch finale, his pleasure in giving Hopkins a career lifeline and even the controversial points' system that got his rider back into the title fight:
“To lose the British Superbike Championship by 0.006 of a second - after such a dramatic season, 26 hard fought races and an incredible final battle - is hard for everybody associated with Samsung Crescent Racing to take, and for John Hopkins it's even harder. That said, the whole team can hold their heads high for playing a pivotal part, and providing such riveting entertainment, in one of the best championships ever.
“When it became clear that Suzuki GB would not be able to support the Crescent team for 2011 in BSB, we understood their situation and could have easily decided to stop racing.
“However, a chat with John towards the end of 2010 got me very motivated to continue the project – it was clear that he was ready to commit to his career on every possible level. To come back from where's he's been, to commit as aggressively as he has on unknown circuits and against fierce competition, to work as hard as he has done all year and to put up with so many difficulties including a horrible mid-season injury, has just been inspirational.
“We've been 100% behind John all year, he's been 100% behind us and it's been a pleasure to see a sportsman banish so many demons in one season, and to gain the respect and admiration of racing enthusiasts and his own competitors around the world. The final race of the season demonstrated John's commitment completely – he could not have given more in his attempt to win, in what will go down as one of the best races in history.
“But John would be the first to say that this story could not have been told without a great team and a great motorcycle. The Crescent prepared Suzuki GSX-R1000 showed its prowess on all tracks and in all conditions and thanks for that must largely go to our chief engineer Lez Pearson who, alongside Suzuki's race department and our technical partners, have developed the bike into an extremely competitive package. The whole team, led by Big Jack, can be very proud of its efforts – thanks to all of you for your spirit and your commitment.
“It was also a pleasure this year to be able to enter with two GSX-R riders, and as a Rookie we couldn't have asked more of Jon Kirkham. He has improved his Superbike riding technique so much over the course of the season, and learnt a lot from Hopper as well. Having just missed the Top-6 shootout, he richly deserved the Riders Cup for 7th overall in the Championship. His focus at Brands Hatch was as much to assist Hopper as it was to get good results for himself, and he ably did that with a 2nd position in Sunday's first race. Thank you Jon, and to your Dad Mick – we've come a long way together during the season!