Shane Byrne took a hard-fought victory in an epic opening MCE British Superbike Championship race at Brands Hatch.
The Be Wiser Ducati star has been the quickest man all weekend, but he was made to work for it in the race after a characteristically bad start and then an uncharacteristic mistake in the early laps see him drop down as far as ninth.
Luke Mossey took an early lead ahead of wet pole-man Josh Brookes, who would soon get ahead of the Kawasaki with Honda’s Dan Linfoot also in the mix.
An safety car intervention after a crash for Shaun Winfield bunched the field up with Mossey in the lead, but it would be Linfoot in front of the pack as they reached Druids as the race got back underway.
An epic six-way battle would then ensue, with the Smiths BMW of Peter Hickman coming through to lead at the mid-way point while the JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s of Haslam and Mossey battled for the final podium spot.
Meanwhile, Byrne bided his time before carving up the pack to take the lead with two laps to go. While it looked as though Linfoot could respond, red flags for rain brought the race to a premature end.
Haslam managed to sneak past Hickman for third in the closing stages to return to the rostrum for the first time since Oulton Park, with Josh Brookes recovering from a mid-race slump to finish fifth ahead of McAMS’s Yamaha’s James Ellison.
The second Honda of Jason O’Halloran finished seventh, ahead of Christian Iddon, John Hopkins and rookie Bradley Ray. Early race leader Luke Mossey faded to 12th.
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