Josh Brookes leads the MCE British Superbike Championship by two points from Shane Byrne after two epic races at Assen, Holland.
Byrne claimed an historic first Assen race win this morning on his return from injury and moved to the top of the Showdown standings as dramatically Tommy Hill failed to score after being involved in an incident before the start of the race.
As the bikes filtered through to join the grid on the sighting lap defending champion Hill had an incident on the grid as he made contact with a mechanic and subsequently tipped off.
The Swan Yamaha was pushed back to the garage as the team worked to repair the damage in a bid to get the former standings leader back out in the race. As the race got underway Hill joined the race from the back of the grid and was only able to complete a handful of laps before retiring.
Hill said: "I was coming through the back of the grid and it was pretty busy and a mechanic from another team didn't realise I was there and ran into me and it jammed the brake lever on. I went over the bars there was nothing that I could do about it. The bike went down and snapped the rear set off the frame, but the team did a great job to do a quick fix and get me out there to get in a lap time for race two. I crushed my crown jewels a bit, but these things happen!"
On the start Michael Laverty had taken the lead on the opening lap from Jakub Smrz, Josh Brookes and Byrne. A lap later though and Byrne snuck ahead to take the lead and continued to push the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki hard to try and keep the chasing Title Fighters at bay.
Laverty was under increasing pressure from Brookes on the third lap and the Tyco Suzuki dived through before the pair swapped places again. Stuart Easton had also been in the leading pack but a moment when he ran on into the gravel and re-joined dropped him down the order.
On the eighth lap Laverty then snatched the lead back from Byrne with Brookes and Lowes also in close contention as the Title Fighters duelled for the vital championship points, but Byrne then moved back ahead. Byrne then started to edge out an advantage as Lowes moved up to second ahead of Laverty with Brookes doing the same two laps later. Laverty dropped down the order to seventh as he struggled over the closing laps but Brookes was able to get ahead of Lowes with three laps remaining to claim second.
Luca Scassa had his best result of the season in fourth after a battle with Noriyuki Haga in fifth and Tommy Bridewell in sixth. James Westmoreland, Stuart Easton and Robin Harms completed the top ten.
The second race went down to the wire as Brookes and Byrne battled until the final corner on the last lap with the Australian Tyco Suzuki rider snatching it on the drag to the line.
Race one winner Byrne had a flying start off the line to lead Michael Laverty and Haga on the opening lap but Laverty fired the Samsung Honda ahead on the fourth as Brookes moved up to third. A lap later and Byrne charged back into the
lead with a move on the inside at turn one, whilst Lowes had also moved up the order after a steady start to lie fourth before making a move on Brookes.
Laverty subsequently started dropping down the order and later finished the race seventh however at the front Byrne, Brookes and Lowes were scrapping for the podium positions. Tommy Hill had meanwhile moved up to third but later dropped back to fourth as Lowes regained the position with a determined move.
At the front Brookes took the lead on the penultimate lap but Byrne regained the lead with a hard move on the brakes into turn one. Brookes shadowed him throughout the final lap and looked set to make a pass, but the double champion defended his position hard. The fight for the win went down to the final corner when Brookes made his move before taking the inside line around a backmarker as Byrne went for the outside that gave the Tyco Suzuki rider the slight edge across the line and the standings lead.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen
1 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2 Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +4.731s
3 Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +4.881s
4 Luca Scassa (Padgetts Honda) +9.327s
5 Noriyuki Haga (Swan Yamaha) +10.024s
6 Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) +11.026s
7 Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +11.538s
8 James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +17.160s
9 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +23.137s
10. Robin Harms (Doodson Motorsport Honda) +23.292s
1. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki)
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.246s
3. Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +3.018s
4. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +3.346s
5. Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) +9.074s
6. Noriyuki Haga (Swan Yamaha) +9.140s
7. Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +9.245s
8. James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +17.311s
9. Robbin Harms (Doodson Motorsport Honda) +17.633s
10. Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +18.891s
1. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 570
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 568
3. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 548
4. Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) 534
5. Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) 532
6. Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) 521