John Hopkins maintained his 100% record in the 2011 BSB Championship Showdown by winning the opening race of the day at Silverstone. In many ways, the American's victory mirrored his successes from Donington as he fought it out with the Swan Yamaha duo before prevailing by a narrow margin.
Michael Laverty got off to a brilliant start from pole position with Hopkins tucking in behind in second. Josh Brookes retained his third position off the line but Michael Rutter lost ground, first falling behind Tommy Hill at Club before losing fifth to a resurgent Shane Byrne.
The Londoner had a miserable qualifying session, finishing down in 13th, but a number of last-ditch set-up changes transformed the HM Plant Honda, allowing him to run at the back of the leading group.
For teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari though, things went from bad to worse. After qualifying 16th, the Japanese rider had his bike pushed off the dummy grid with an apparent problem. Kiyonari made it out of the pitlane for the formation lap but was instructed to start from the back of the grid. Instead, he retook his original grid position and was duly handed a ride-through penalty.
Byrne was at least upholding team honours at the front and ducked underneath Brookes' Suzuki at the loop on lap four, moving into fourth. However, Brookes was picking up speed as the race wore on and only stayed behind for a couple of laps.
As cool and methodical as ever, Hopkins lurked behind Laverty's Yamaha before finally making the move into Stowe on lap nine. The Crescent Suzuki man had signalled his intentions at the same place a lap earlier but Laverty clearly hadn't heeded the warning, losing a lead he wouldn't regain.
Hopkins kept his nose in front to win by a quarter of a second although his road to victory was a little easier than it should've been, with Laverty later admitting he was unaware that he was on the final lap, opting to wait before launching an attack.
Tommy Hill was forced to soak up pressure from Josh Brookes but took the final podium position by 0.310s with Brookes fourth, half a second ahead of Shane 'Shakey' Byrne in fifth.
The battle for sixth was also closely contested with Peter Hickman leading it early on. The Tyco Honda rider crashed coming onto the Hangar Straight on lap five which promoted the Motorpoint Yamaha of Alex Lowes.
The 21 year old eventually lost his grip on sixth though with EVO class leader Graeme Gowland coming through to claim the best result of his BSB career, and his fifth straight EVO win. The Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducatis of Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp finished right behind in eighth and ninth while Tommy Bridewell got the second Motorpoint Yamaha into the top ten.
Jon Kirkham missed out on the top ten after jumping the start but pitted late on for new tyres, choosing to put in a late flying lap to secure a good grid slot for race two. It worked, as the Derby rider set the fourth fastest lap, with Brookes grabbing pole for the second race ahead of Hopkins and Laverty.
Lap Leaders: M.Laverty (1-8), J.Hopkins (9-14)
Fastest Lap: J.Brookes (2:06.253 – Lap 2)