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History is made: Hopkins wins BSB opener on Snetterton 300

Sunday, July 03 2011

Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki's John Hopkins made history this afternoon at Snetterton as the American took a sensational first win on the 300 circuit after an epic last lap dice with Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill to celebrate tomorrow's Independence Day in style.

Hopkins said: "That was a great race for me and the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki was working amazingly. It was a hard one and I knew I might have something more here as we had tested at the track after Knockhill and to win for the first time here feels great. I am having so much fun out there and I knew I had the pace. The safety car stopped my flow a bit and I was getting a bit emotional but then I just had to get my focus back and try to get that win. It's the 4 July weekend and what a way to celebrate that with a win in race one on this new track."

Hopkins took the holeshot off the line from Tommy Hill and Chris Walker on the opening lap into Riches, but the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider went wide on the exit of Montreal but Hill wasn't able to take the advantage and he stayed ahead. Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was on the charge forward on the opening lap and went from fifth to third by the start of the second lap on the HM Plant Honda.

The second Swan Yamaha was moving forward too and went ahead of both Walker and Josh Brookes but he was soon under pressure for Ryuichi Kiyonari who also passed the Relentless Suzuki rider to move seventh by the third lap and went sixth a lap later out braking Walker into Brundle.

Hopkins held the lead until the end of lap five from Hill and Byrne when the Nissan GTR Safety Car was deployed as Hudson Kennaugh crashed out at Montreal, followed swiftly by Tom Tunstall. The race resumed on the eighth lap and race leader Hopkins went wide at Oggies which gave Hill the chance to make a move and he dived down the inside to take the lead. Championship leader Byrne was then putting the pressure on Hopkins and he forced his way through on the brakes at Brundle, but a lap later Hopkins took back second place at Riches with a determined move on the title leader.

Kiyonari was moving up the order, passing Kirkham to go fourth with a move at Montreal to tuck in behind his HM Plant Honda team-mate, but on the 13th lap a mistake cost him dearly and he dropped down to sixth. He was determined to make amends though and he moved up passed Kirkham with two laps remaining to move back up to fifth.

At the front Hill still lead the charge but was under increased pressure from Hopkins who threatened on several occasions to make a move, but the Swan Yamaha rider was able to fend off his American rival ahead of the final lap.

Hill held the lead across the line but as the pair tipped into Riches Hopkins stole the inside line but the Swan Yamaha rider wasn't going to settle for second without a fight and he forced his way back ahead at Montreal but went wide which gave Hopkins the advantage into the new infield section. Hill was shadowing his title rival and looking for an possible opportunity to get back ahead but the Californian had the edge and he was able to fend off Hill for the first victory on the new circuit.

Byrne maintained third on the leading HM Plant Honda, but the battle for fourth was intense as Laverty moved ahead of Kirkham with two laps remaining at Agostini to push the Swan Yamaha into fourth, with the second Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider taking sixth.

Relentless Suzuki's Josh Brookes had been embroiled in the opening laps dicing with both Walker and the Motorpoint Yamahas and he was able to secure seventh from the Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki rider. Loris Baz had some out of the seat moments during the opening laps but he took ninth place ahead of Tyco Honda's Peter Hickman.

In the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo Championship Graeme Gowland took his first victory for WFR Honda ahead of Simon Andrews and Glen Richards as Scott Smart was forced to retire with a te