Tommy Hill is back in business. The Swan Yamaha rider signalled his return to fitness with a sensational winning double at Knockhill to put his MCE Insurance British Superbike title bid firmly back on track.
It was major triumph for Hill who had powered to his second pole start of the season in the difficult wet conditions at the Scottish circuit, but then faced the challenge of his title rivals on the dry raceday. He and his team adapted well using tried and tested settings and that paid dividends as he became the first rider to secure a double win this season.
Hill was eager to make his mark soon reeling in Samsung Crescent Suzuki’s John Hopkins who had led the pack into the first corner on the first lap and then pulling clear with a pace that left the rest trailing.
Hill took the first race in commanding style from Hopkins with the former two times British title winner Shane Byrne third on his HM Plant Honda and determined to set the record straight next time out, although that was to prove difficult in an incident littered start.
Twice the Nissan GTR Safety Car was deployed as first Tommy Bridewell tipped off at Seat Curves and then Hopkins suffered a similar fate also bringing down his team-mate Jon Kirkham who was able to rejoin the action.
Byrne had the advantage just but Hill was snapping at the exhaust pipes of his bike and soon they were racing elbow to elbow in a thrilling duel for supremacy. Hill had the edge and finally made the telling move with nine laps remaining.
Once ahead Hill pulled out a lead, taking the race by 2.464secs from Byrne who had to settle for second best just ahead of Michael Laverty riding the second Swan Yamaha.
For Hill who had ripped the ligaments in his left shoulder in a heavy crash in the second round at Oulton Park back in May, it was a day to treasure and reward for riding through the pain barrier in other rounds in a damage limitation exercise.
At Knockhill, Hill was on the attack, back to his old self and explaining: “Adrenalin is the best pain-killer of all – I didn’t feel a thing till I took the chequered flag. To come here and do this, pole start, lap record, two wins, it really is unbelievable – you could say a big weight off my shoulder.
Hill added: “It’s been a tough time not only with the shoulder, but also with gambles on tyres as the weather has intervened too often making it so difficult. Winning the first race was a relief, such a big result and a necessity for me as it puts us back where we should be.”
Byrne extended his lead with third and second places, 172-141 over Hopkins who lost ground with his second race tumble with Hill third on 120 points. Michael Laverty, sixth and third, consolidated his place in the top six with reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari joining them on the strength of his fourth place in the second Scottish race.
Glen Richards riding the Tyco Honda and Simon Andrews on the Buy-Force.com PR Kawasaki took the victories in the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class.
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British Superbike – Knockhill – Race one results
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 24m 35.133s
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +8.907s
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +9.123s
4. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +15.354s
5. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +21.816s
6. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +21.823s
British Superbike – Knockhill – Race Two Results
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 26m 12.073s
2. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +2.464s
3. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +2.728s
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +10.983s
5. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +17.370s
6. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +18.557s
British Superbike Championship standings
1. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 172
2. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki)141
3. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha)120
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 95
5. Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) 89
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 84
[Press Release Courtesy of the BSB Media Office]