Posted: 04 Jul 2011
Race 1 – Hopkins first to the flag
Norfolk circuit looked set for two thrilling races as the championship hit the halfway point. And the huge crowds were not disappointed when Hopkins lined up on the grid in prime spot after his first ever qualifying pole position – a position he was not keen to relinquish as it turned out.
Hopkins lead from the start and ahead of his close rivals Byrne and Hill. The gap widened considerably but he was reined in with the appearance of the safety car after a collision between Hudson Kennaugh and Tom Tunstall on lap five.
Although he retained the lead when the action resumed, an uncharacteristic mistake saw the American drop to third behind Byrne and Hill. It wasn’t long before Byrne was passed leaving the route open to chase and, hopefully, re-pass Hill.
But it took until the final lap for Hopkins to regain the lead from a defiant Hill. But then Hill regained the lead again at Montreal but couldn’t make the brave move stick. Hopkins took advantage of this slight respite to steer his Suzuki across the winning line.
Byrne settled several laps earlier into a secure, unchallenged third spot to make use of the points on offer. Meanwhile, Hill’s team-mate came in fourth ahead of Kiyonari who, despite fifth place actually logged the fastest lap of the race to net pole position for race two.
RACE TWO – Kiyonari wakes to take win
Hopkins actually stuffed Kiyonari at the start to take the first bend in front. Kiyonari then tried to take lead at Montreal but had the door slammed in his face by Hopkins. This resulted in Hill clipping Kiyonari’s rapidly slowing Honda and the Swan Yamaha rider going down. Although remounting, Hill was eventually forced to retire from the race
Lap six saw an unfortunate and massive incident involving Steve Brogan and Simon Andrews. The high-speed crash at Riches came as a result of leaked fluid from another rider’s machine. The upshot being the red flag was shown.
A nine-lap restarted race was on the cards with positions determined by the end of lap six, meaning Hopkins, Kiyonari, Brookes and Bryne were were lined up for the off.
The battle was a spectator’s dream. With dynamic and daring passes and a trip onto the grass by Byrne, somehow Kiyonari made it to the front and crossed the line in first place. Josh Brookes followed Kiyonari across the line for his first of the season climb to the podium.
Hopkins made third place his own, while a wide-eyed Shaky Byrne came in fourth after he and his Honda mowed a good swathe of Norfolk outfield. Laverty made up the final front five.