May 24 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 17, 2011
Three World Superbike (WSBK) teams have shown an interest in signing Tommy Hill for next season after he won the British Superbike Championship (BSB) in astonishing fashion at Brands Hatch last weekend.
The entire season came down to the final lap of the last race, which saw Hill and his title rival John Hopkins go wheel-to-wheel around the Grand Prix circuit.
The pair switched places five times in 2.6 miles, with Beckenham-born Hill crossing the finish line in second place, 0.006 seconds ahead of Hopkins.
Even before the victory champagne had lost its fizz thoughts had turned to next season. As champion the 26-year-old’s stock has never been higher and he will not be short of offers.
While staying on to defend his title with Swan Yamaha is an option, Hill revealed a move up to World Superbikes is also on the table.
“There are lots of phone calls, it’s all just possibilities at this point,” he said.
“It’s always a good place to be, holding the number one plate. My first choice is to speak to Swan Yamaha, we will see what happens and hopefully by the end of the month it’ll be clearer.
“A World Superbike slot is a possibility. There are three teams looking to do something, two are new teams who are in negotiations with sponsors for next year.
“It’s about making the right choice and staying on a winning bike for next year.”
A move on to the world stage is a well-worn path for BSB champions. Fellow Kent riders Leon Camier, from Ashford, and Sheppey’s Shane Byrne secured WSBK deals in the wake of their title victories in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
Although plans for next year have dominated Hill’s schedule this week, there has been time for reflection on the extraordinary events at Brands last Sunday.
Hopkins held a slender eight-point lead heading into the final three races, but it had been trimmed to just two points by the beginning of the last race.
Hill lost a championship lead in the final round 12 months earlier and was determined not to see a second crown slip from his grasp.
“I wasn’t going to go down without a fight,” he said.
“In the last lap I thought ‘I can win this’ and I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes and just got on with it.
“I don’t think I was breathing hard, the adrenalin had taken over - it was do or die. On the last corner I opened the throttle way before I had on any other lap and I needed to because John was right there.
“When I crossed the line I reckoned I’d won but then I saw John put his arm up and I thought ‘oh no’. It was only after I saw the marshalls and the crowd that I knew I’d got it.
“The crowd were amazing, it was a very emotional moment on the podium.
“I was just shocked that 27 races had come down to that last corner.”
The euphoria around the title battle overshadowed Byrne’s superb finish to the campaign.
A sixth place finish in the first race scuppered any faint hopes the 35-year-old had of winning the title, but the HM Plant Honda rider won the final two races to end the season third in the standings, 22 points behind Hill.
Photo by STEVE GRIGGS