Double TT winners Nick Crowe and Mark Cox scored their first British Championship victory of the season after a dramatic race at Donington.
Crowe and Cox on the A & J Groundworks sponsored LCR Honda only secured the win after a race of fluctuating fortunes for all the pre-race favourites.
They had secured pole position and led off the line but Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance (Eastern Airways LCR Suzuki) had taken charge by the end of the lap.
The leading two swapped positions until the fourth lap when Reeves and Simon Neary and Andy Winkle (Neary Racing Baker Suzuki) relegated Crowe to third. Neary then forged ahead but at the completion of the sixth lap, Crowe was out on his own!
Neary and Reeves had both spun off at Coppice, perhaps on the dirt kicked up by Steve Coombes and Gary Partridge (Dave Hudspeth Carpets Ireson Honda) from an earlier on-off-on track exploit.
As a result, the safety car was duly employed and consequently Crowe then lost his comfortable five second lead over new second placemen Nigel Connole and Dipash Chauhan (Screwfix Ltd LCR Honda).
Little did Crowe and Cox know they’d also been docked ten seconds for a jump start! After three laps the safety car went in leaving Crowe with possibly seven or eight laps to regain the lead on corrected time.
When Connole went off at the Old Hairpin on lap 13, Crowe had an ‘on-track’ lead of around four seconds over a furious battle involving Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson (Printing Roller Services Shelbourne Honda), Gary Horspole/Scott Parnell (Sleaford Plant Hire LCR Honda), Roy Hanks/Dave Wells (Dorwingear Ltd Molyneux Suzuki) and Dougie Wright/Stu Bond (Eddy Wright M/cs Shelbourne Honda), although in reality Harrison led on corrected time with Crowe down in fifth!
Crowe was increasing his on-track lead but would he run out of laps to gain a ten second plus margin?
After 17 laps, he’d just about regained the lead with an ever-changing order behind him actually helping his cause.
Horspole was now in second from Harrison with Wright up to fourth ahead of Hanks. One more circuit and the last lap flag was shown with Crowe now one and a half seconds in the lead from Wright, Horspole, Hanks and Harrison.
Crowe continued to stretch his advantage – nearly 5 seconds at the flag with Horspole regaining second from Wright, Hanks and Harrison, these four separated by just 0.86 seconds.
Behind the top five another tremendous battle had taken place with Roger Stockton and Pete Alton (Weston Motorcycles Baker Yamaha) claiming a season-best sixth from Tony Baker and Fiona Baker-Milligan (Baker Suzuki) and David Lillee and Lee Watson (Ian Bell M/cs Bell Yamaha). Lillee not only scored his best-ever championship result with eighth but also took the F2 Cup honours for the first time.
Howard Baker and Mike Killingsworth (D&J Bike Spares Shelbourne Honda) were ninth ahead of Dean Lindley and Mark Sayers (Motorcycle Parts Leeds Bellas Yamaha), Mick Harvey and Sally Wilson (the Fsd.com Harvey Suzuki) and Matt and Jo Williams (MR Equipe Suzuki) – Lindley and Williams securing 2nd and 3rd in the F2 Cup series.
Crowe’s victory takes him to third place in the main championship with 81 points, ex-champions Hanks and Horspole leading the way with 88 and 83 respectively.
Result: 19 Laps, 37.24 miles
1. Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (Honda) 26m 36.38s 83.86mph.
2. Gary Horspole/Scott Parnell (Honda)
3. Dougie Wright/Stu Bond (Honda)
4. Roy Hanks/Dave Wells (Suzuki)
5. Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson (Honda)
6. Roger Stockton/Pete Alton (Yamaha)
7. Tony Baker/Fiona Baker-Milligan (Suzuki)
8. Dave Lillee/Lee Watson (Yamaha)
9. Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (Honda)
10. Dean Lindley/Mark Sayers(Yamaha)
11. Mick Harvey/Sally Wilson (Suzuki)
12. Matt Williams/Jo Williams (Suzuki)
13. Steve Charlton/Craig Kinsella (Yamaha)
14. Bryan Downey/Julie Downey (Yamaha)
Fastest Lap: Crowe/Cox 1m 17.10s 91.39 mph.