John Hopkins made the perfect return to British Superbikes with victory in race one at Donington Park as the Championship Showdown got off to a spectacular start. The Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider dislocated a finger on MotoGP duty at Brno, forcing him to miss the Cadwell Park round, but didn't seem to be affected at all.
The American took a cautious approach in the early stages while his title rivals slugged it out. Shane Byrne left his braking for Redgate the latest and grabbed the lead from Michael Laverty and Tommy Hill.
Laverty was looking particularly racy and dived past into McLean's while Hopkins pushed Hill down to fourth at the Fogarty Esses next time around, although the series leader responded four laps later. The top four looked to pull away but Peter Hickman was hanging on in fifth while Jon Kirkham led the other title contender, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Josh Brookes in the battle for sixth.
'Shakey' Byrne retook the lead at the Old Hairpin on lap three as the leaders settled into a rhythm in the 1m30s. Hickman and Kirkham were able to keep in touch but Kiyonari quickly fell away, holding Brookes behind him.
Byrne resisted the Swan Yamahas until lap 12 when Hill dived up the inside into Goddards. The move seemed a little optimistic and both riders were forced out wide, allowing Laverty and Hopkins through on the inside. Hopkins cut in front on the run down to Redgate but the aggressive Laverty scythed up the inside when they hit the brakes.
The squabbling amongst the title contenders brought Kirkham into play after the local rider had dispatched Hickman. The Tyco Honda now had Brookes to deal with but Kiyonari was nowhere to be seen with his Fireblade struck by a mechanical problem.
With four laps to go, Hill finally managed to make his move on Byrne stick but that would only secure him third as Laverty and Hopkins disputed the victory. The American slipped up the inside into the Fogarty Esses with a typically smooth pass and despite a challenge on the final lap, Laverty would have no answer.
Hill finished right on their tail in third while Byrne dropped back by three seconds to finish fourth. Kirkham was a strong fifth for Crescent Suzuki which forced Brookes to settle for sixth after winning his battle with Hickman.
Fresh from a podium in the World Supersport Championship at the Nurburgring, James Ellison took eighth ahead of Martin Jessopp on the sole Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati and EVO class winner Graeme Gowland.
Race One Result (20 Laps):
|1||John Hopkins||USA||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||30:17.023|
|2||Michael Laverty||GBR||Yamaha||Swan Yamaha||+0.480|
|3||Tommy Hill||GBR||Yamaha||Swan Yamaha||+0.781|
|4||Shane Byrne||GBR||Honda||HM Plant Honda||+3.920|
|5||Jon Kirkham||GBR||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||+6.345|
|6||Josh Brookes||AUS||Suzuki||Relentless Suzuki by TAS||+10.281|
|7||Peter Hickman||GBR||Honda||Tyco Honda||+13.141|
|8||James Ellison||GBR||Honda||Team Sorrymate.com||+18.578|
|9||Martin Jessopp||GBR||Ducati||Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati||+22.154|
|10||Graeme Gowland||GBR||Honda (E)||Team WFR||+22.543|
|11||James Westmoreland||GBR||Honda (E)||Team WFR||+33.290|
|12||Ian Lowry||GBR||Kawasaki||MSS Colchester Kawasaki||+33.494|
|13||Glen Richards||AUS||Honda (E)||Team WFR||+34.433|
|14||Tommy Bridewell||GBR||Yamaha||Motorpoint Yamaha||+41.615|
|15||Barry Burrell||GBR||BMW (E)||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||+43.062|
|16||Alex Lowes||GBR||Yamaha||Motorpoint Yamaha||+45.933|
|17||Gary Mason||GBR||Kawasaki (N)||MSS Colchester Kawasaki||+51.752|
|18||Patric Muff||SWI||Honda (E)||Tyco Honda||+1:01.323|
|19||Hudson Kennaugh||RSA||Kawasaki (E)||Buy-Force.com PR Racing||+1:12.358|
|20||James Hillier||GBR||Kawasaki (E)||Bournemouth Kawasaki Racing||+1:17.177|
|21||Lee Jackson||GBR||BMW||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||+1:17.338|
|22||Craig Fitzpatrick||GBR||Honda (E)||Paceday Z / Close Print Finance||+1:17.758|
|23||Aaron Zanotti||GBR||BMW (E)||Quattro Plant Spike Racing||+1:29.257|
|24||David Anthony||AUS||BMW (E)||Doodson Motorsport||+2 Laps|
|Chris Walker||GBR||Kawasaki||Pr1mo Racing||+2 Laps|
|Steve Brogan||GBR||Honda||Jentin Racing Honda||+7 Laps|
|Ryuichi Kiyonari||JAP||Honda||HM Plant Honda||+7 Laps|
|Dan Kneen||GBR||Kawasaki (E)||Marks Bloom Racing||+10 Laps|
|Nick Medd||GBR||BMW||Boss (D&B) Racing||+15 Laps|
|Scott Smart||GBR||Ducati (E)||Moto Rapido Ducati||+16 Laps|
|Karl Harris||GBR||Aprilia||Splitlath Motorsport||+19 Laps|
(E) – Evo Class
(N) – 2012 Spec