TOMMY HILL VICTORIOUS IN CLOSEST EVER BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP!
10 Oct 2011
Long time Pirelli rider Tommy Hill fulfilled his dream of becoming British Superbike Champion by an incredible 0.006 seconds and two points from ex GP star John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins at Brands Hatch today. In testament to the closeness in racing and regulations, the prestigious title went down to the last corner of the last lap of the final race of the season!
Local hero Tommy was besieged by thousands of fans as the culmination of an injury strewn career was realised. After winning the inaugural R6 Cup, Tommy became an integral part of Pirelli’s racing R+D programme with Virgin Yamaha before the BSB ‘control tyre’ introduction in 2008.
Another local star Shane Byrne dominated Sunday’s two races with a dominant double win to clinch third in the series. Tommy’s teammate Michael Laverty had kept himself in Championship contention until a race crash ended his hopes. Fast Aussie Josh Brookes broke the lap record, took two fastest laps and had a spectacular accident, almost destroying his Relentless by TAS Suzuki.
Race one took place on Saturday under an overcast sky but remained dry over the shorter 16 lap sprint race. The tension was palpable as both Hopkins and Hill made small errors to end up battling for the final podium place, while Michael Laverty and Josh Brookes powered into an eight second lead at the front. Tommy dropped to sixth on the first lap before making the most of his medium compound SC2 Pirelli Diablo Superbike front tyre to put in some lightning fast laps to pass Rutter, Ellison and then Hopper. A captivating battle then ensued as the two title protagonists traded places with Hopper taking third at the flag. Josh Brookes smashed the Superbike lap record with a 1:25.426 (previous record 1:25.724)
Shane Byrne recovered from a crash in qualifying (and subsequent 18th grid position) to scythe through the pack to finish sixth in race one. ‘Shakey’ also fell off in Sunday warm up but bounced back magnificently over the next two races.
Race two was a nailbiting affair for team managers as an incredible nine riders crashed out in ultra difficult, damp conditions including Josh Brookes, Michael Laverty and new ‘Evo’ champ Glen Richards. With a fully dry line, riders had no option but to go for full Pirelli Diablo Superbike slicks but there remained damp patches and any slight deviation off-line spelt disaster. Shane Byrne and Jon Kirkham made the most of the conditions to finish a whopping 10 seconds ahead of eventual third place man James Ellison. Ellison stalked Hill for the entire race to pounce on the penultimate lap leaving the ‘Title fighter’ in a disappointing fourth position. The big surprise of the day came when Hopkins stopped on the very first lap, after a mystery electrical problem temporarily stopped his machine. Hopkins then gave himself a mountain to climb as he caught the rest of the field and worked his way up to an impressive twelfth at the flag. Shakey logged the fastest lap with a 1:27.107 circulation on a fast drying track, putting himself in pole position for the final outing.
The second race carnage left fans with the awesome spectacle of an ‘everything to play for’ race three finale with Hopkins a mere two points ahead of his rival Hill. This last encounter remained a game of high speed chess as Hill followed Hopper for 17 laps before an audacious overtake initiated an incredible battle to the line between the two. With no quarter given and some breathtaking moves, Tommy eventually crossed the line an almost imperceptible 0.006 seconds in front.
In the British Supersport Championship the year long battle of attrition between Alastair Seeley and Ben Wilson with Seeley coming out in front and taking a deserved series crown. The pair traded wins all year with some awesome racing in this Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa shod series.
Jason Griffiths, Pirelli Racing Manager commented, "What a fitting end to a sensational season! Congratulations to Tommy who has spent many years with Pirelli and also to Shaun Muir and the Swan Yamaha team. Hopper and the Samsung Crescent Racing squad could not have come any closer to winning the title and played their part in an awesome spectacle. We’re really pleased with the fantastic lap times set by Josh Brookes in qualifying and the new lap record set in Saturday’s race which highlighted the performance of the Pirelli Diablo Superbike slicks. Thanks from Pirelli to the riders, teams and all the people involved in making the BSB ‘show’ happen throughout the season."
The new Pirelli World Superbike spec tyres are available for all competitors and trackday customers in 2011. The new compounds of the Pirelli Diablo Superbike tyres come with SC1 and SC2 front options and SC0 and SC1 rear, with ‘0’ being the softest and ‘2’ the hardest solutions. The tyres are designed for sustained performance and high grip characteristics.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship final standings:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 647
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 645
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 625
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 601
5. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 598
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 526
Race one, Saturday, 16 laps:
1. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha)
2. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.396s
3. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +8.766s
4. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +8.873s
5. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +9.007s
6. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +11.681s
7. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +13.752s
8. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +13.923s
9. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +18.452s
10. Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +24.763s
Race two, 20 laps:
1. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
2. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +1.150s
3. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +11.994s
4. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +12.825s
5. Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +23.993s
6. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +27.829s
7. Tommy Bridewell (Motorpoint Yamaha) +29.403s
8. James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +40.713s
9. Dan Linfoot (Tyco Honda) +46.981s
10. Karl Harris (Splitlath Aprilia) +49.918s
Race three, 20 laps:
1. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda)
2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +4.434s
3. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +4.440s
4. James Ellison (Sorrymate.com Honda) +4.679s
5. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +4.782s
6. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.785s
7. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +12.253s
8. Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +15.963s
9. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +16.130s
10. James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +24.203s
More information regarding Pirelli’s entire range of racing and road tyres can be found at www.pirellimoto.co.uk/motorcycling
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