Josh Brookes made an emotional return to the top step of the MCE British Superbike podium after an impressive ride in the opening race at Thruxton.
After lengthy delays, the shortened race got underway over an hour later than planned and it was RAF Regular and Reserves Jake Dixon who bolted off the line to take an early lead from Peter Hickman and Shane Byrne.
A mistake at the chicane on the opening lap saw Byrne drop back to sixth, promoting Brookes into the podium battle.
However, drama would strike on lap three with a heavy crash for Billy McConnell leaving his FS3 Kawasaki on fire. While McConnell was attended to by medics, the safety car came out and remained out until the eighth lap before riders were unleashed for the final half of the race.
Hickman took the lead from Dixon shortly after the restart, but Brookes was biding his time before taking two places on one lap as he progressed to the front on lap 15.
Pulling the pin, Brookes gapped the chasing duo of Hickman and Dixon who spent the second half of the lap swapping paint for the runner-up spot.
Hickman would come out best as he crossed the line in second ahead of Dixon with series leader Shane Byrne fourth.
Christian Iddon was fifth for Tyco BMW ahead of Honda’s Jason O’Halloran, while championship challenger Leon Haslam could only manage seventh on the harder rear tyre.
Bradley Ray repeated his best ever result in eighth as he continues to impress for Buildbase Suzuki ahead of MotoRapido Ducati’s John Hopkins and the Bennetts Suzuki of Sylvain Guintoli.
McAMS Yamaha’s nightmare weekend continue with James Ellison and Michael Laverty finishing 19th and 21st respectively.
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