Leon Haslam returned to the top step with a dominant performance in the opening MCE British Superbike race at Oulton Park, comfortably beating rival Shane Byrne to the top spot.
It was a lights to flag victory for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider, who took the lead at turn one from second on the grid and didn’t look back despite a hard pushing Shane Byrne breathing down his neck for most of the race.
While Byrne sniffed at the lead on numerous occasions, as the race drew out it would become clear that Haslam had the pace on used tyres – running with his preferred harder option rear compared to Byrne on the soft – as he etched out a three second gap towards the end.
Luke Mossey took a somewhat distant third after he was unable to stay with his team-mate and Byrne, but the real scrap of the race was for fourth place.
Held by Josh Brookes in the early stages, the Aussie soon dropped back as his tyre began to wear leaving Honda’s Jason O’Halloran, Smiths BMW’s Peter Hickman and a hard charging James Ellison to fight it out for the first non-podium spot.
Hickman had looked to have it in the bag, but a crafty move from O’Halloran at the final turn saw the Lincolnshireman mugged on the final lap with Ellison just missing out in sixth.
Brookes would cross the line seventh ahead of Christian Iddon, with Glenn Irwin and Jake Dixon rounding out the top ten.
Bennetts Suzuki’s nightmare continued with Sylvain Guintoli retiring from the race on the all-new GSX-R1000, Michael Laverty – who suffered an enormous crash in qualifying – also retired while rookie Bradley Ray crashed out on the seventh lap.
Having set the fastest lap of the race, Haslam will start the second race from pole position ahead of the Honda of O’Halloran and Ducati of Byrne.
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