John Hopkins paid tribute to the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team after coming within 0.006 seconds of winning the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch. The American missed out after a thrilling final lap which saw Tommy Hill beat him to the finish line by inches to take the title.
Hopkins accepted he couldn't have done any more and thanked his team for giving him the opportunity to challenge for the championship.
“Well I don’t feel great obviously, but I don’t feel completely empty either. This has been a great season, I gave it everything I had but it just wasn’t to be. So hats off to Tommy for taking the title.”
“I couldn’t be more grateful to the Samsung Crescent Racing team: They gave me everything including the best bike out there. I came into this year on a make-or-break basis and I’m hugely grateful.”
Jon Kirkham ended the season on a high though by winning the BSB Riders' Cup as the highest points scorer outside the title challengers, despite crashing in race three. Kirkham joined his teammate in thanking his team for a memorable year in which he claimed his first race win.
“I had a great first race today. It was good to show what I could do and to be on the podium again was brilliant as it secured me the Riders’ Cup, for being ‘best of the rest’ as the first non-Title Fighter!”
“In the second race I didn’t have the rear tyre performance I had for the first, it was spinning up and when I pushed it – I really wanted to be in the top-five there, helping Hopper – it just let go.”
“I sit here now and the year has just gone so quick; it’s been an enjoyable year and to race with the Samsung Crescent Racing team has been brilliant. Big thanks to them for a giving me such a great year.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine couldn't help but look back on moments that might have cost them the title but knows they can hold their heads up high.
“I’m speechless. It’s impossible to put into words how this feels. It’s hugely disappointing, yet I find I’m happy as well – I think that’s the pride I feel for the team. What they’ve achieved this year has been brilliant; an unbelievable job.”
“Racing will always be a story of ‘ifs and buts’ and we’ve plenty of those to take away from this weekend – what if Hopper’s electrics hadn’t suffered that glitch in the first race; what if JK had stayed on and got in the mix? But the story of the Championship isn’t down to one or two isolated moments like those; there’s more to it than that and everyone has those moments during the year. We just have to take away the positives. We were there and we got to within literally an inch or so of the title. We did everything we could.”
“So I’d like to say a big thank you back to my riders as well, I’ve appreciated everything they’ve done this season. Hopper has been an inspirational rider to work with, very giving, very open and always positive – we’ll have so many great memories of this season with him. JK has been through an incredible journey this year, making the step up to the big time and today he showed he’s now one of Britain’s top riders for sure. Then huge thanks to Lez and Dale and their crews; all of them have been incredibly professional – and inspirational – this season. It’s been a great team. And finally, to Samsung, FIXI and all our sponsors – thanks for everything. Without their support we wouldn’t be here. The support has been brilliant. We hope they enjoyed the ride as much as we did.
“One more thing, then: bring on 2012!”