Josh Brookes took his first victory of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike season in a dramatic opening encounter at Brands Hatch.
Starting from the front row, Brookes bolted off the line but it wasn’t all to go his way with polesitter Glenn Irwin putting up a challenge in the early stages.
The Aussie would have to break slightly clear of the Ducati to fend off the attack and settle into the lead, going on to remain unchallenged for the remainder of the race.
The second McAMS Yamaha of Tarran Mackenzie also made a strong start, settling into third but came under attack from Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon with Haslam and Dixon behind.
Sat no more than half a second behind Brookes for most of the race, Irwin looked set to make a challenge on the final lap but wasn’t quite close enough to make a pass leaving Brookes to clinch his first win for the McAMS Yamaha team.
Iddon’s stint in third was short-lived with Mackenzie taking the place back for the second half of the race, but disaster struck for the rookie as he crashed out on the penultimate lap to miss out on a maiden rostrum.
As the race went on, Iddon dropped further through the pack leaving Haslam to salvage a single podium credit from an inherited third place after Mackenzie’s crash.
Jake Dixon also passed Iddon to secure a fourth place finished while the Smiths BMW of Peter Hickman rounded out the top six.
Richard Cooper took seventh as the best-finishing Buildbase Suzuki rider in seventh ahead of Danny Buchan and rookie Andrew Irwin. Michael Laverty completed the top ten.
Rookie Chrissy Rouse had a strong run to 11th on the Movuno Halsall Suzuki ahead of Tommy Bridewell, who finished 12th after starting 26th on the grid.
Third in the championship Brad Ray had a nightmare race, crossing the line 14th as he continues to struggle for front end grip on the Buildbase Suzuki.
There was more misery for Honda Racing as Dan Linfoot crashed out of 15th place, while Jason O’Halloran salvaged two points as he continues to recover from injury. Linfoot sustained a suspected broken left scaphoid in the incident and will miss race two.
Luke Mossey was another faller, crashing out of a top six position into Stirlings. The Cambridge rider was still undergoing checks on his arm at the time of publication.