Michael Laverty kept his head to win the first British Superbike race of the day in treacherous conditions at Thruxton.

The battle for victory included as many as eight riders at one stage, but the Swan Yamaha rider prevailed ahead of Michael Rutter, with Shane Byrne finishing an incredible third after starting at the back of the grid.

Rutter made the best getaway from the inside of the front row to sneak in front of polesitter Alex Lowes into Allard but Peter Hickman seemed to find more grid than anybody in the early stages and stormed into the lead by the end of lap one.

Laverty was making steady progress from his seventh place grid position and, by lap four, he had made his way past Rutter for fourth. Just ahead of them, John Hopkins was getting up to speed and was challenging race leader Hickman.

Alex Lowes was just behind them in third but had his sights set on regaining the lead he had lost at the start, but no sooner had he done that, Laverty was right on his tail and breezed past the MSS Colchester Kawasaki as they started lap eight.

At half distance Laverty led from Lowes and Hickman while Dan Linfoot had surged up to fourth from tenth on the grid. Michael Rutter had slipped back to fifth while John Hopkins suddenly had championship rival Shane Byrne to deal with in the battle for sixth.

Into the second half of the race and it appeared Lowes was starting to hit tyre trouble as the ZX-10R started to lose ground on the leaders. Within the space of two laps he had dropped from second to seventh while 'Shakey' Byrne grabbed the opportunity to snatch sixth from Hopkins, which soon became fifth with Lowes' demise.

Laverty had managed to pull out a one-second lead at the front leaving Hickman to defend second from a queue of experienced challengers. On the penultimate lap, his resistance was broken as Rutter and Byrne demoted him to fourth with Hopkins also threatening behind.

The final lap turned into a thrilling duel over second place with Byrne grabbing the advantage as they weaved through the complex. The 39-year-old Rutter produced a stunning move at the final corner, riding around the outside of Byrne into the Club chicane to snatch second by 0.052s.

Hopkins would eventually deprive Hickman of fourth on the last lap while Dan Linfoot's outstanding ride was rewarded with sixth. Alex Lowes ended up a distant seventh after holding off Chris Walker while Josh Brookes took ninth and Ryuichi Kiyonari had a quiet ride to tenth.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Thruxton, race one result:

  1. Michael LAVERTY (Swan Yamaha) 20:42.99
  2. Michael RUTTER (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +1.281
  3. Shane BYRNE (HM Plant Honda) +1.333
  4. John HOPKINS (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.923
  5. Peter HICKMAN (Tyco Honda) +2.473
  6. Dan LINFOOT (Sorrymate.com Honda) +3.097
  7. Alex LOWES (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +8.863
  8. Chris WALKER (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +10.948
  9. Josh BROOKES (Relentless Suzuki) +14.718
  10. Ryuichi KIYONARI (HM Plant Honda) +17.132 

Mirror.co.uk EVO class result:

  1. Barry BURRELL (Buildbase BMW Motorrad) 21:17.466
  2. Glen RICHARDS (WFR Honda) +2.786
  3. Patric MUFF (Tyco Honda) +9.802

Fastest Lap

Shane BYRNE (HM Plant Honda) 1:21.012