Shane 'Shakey' Byrne put in a faultless performance to beat Tommy Hill to victory in the opening British Superbike race of the day at Knockhill. The polesitter lost vital ground at the start and despite shadowing Byrne throughout, the defending champion had to settle for a disappointed second.
Michael Laverty was the quickest man out of the blocks and stormed from the middle of the front row to claim the lead at turn one. Byrne slotted in behind through the SEAT curves as Hill dropped to third with Josh Brookes fourth ahead of the other Swan Yamaha of Noriyuki Haga. The Japanese rider didn't have the pace to tag onto the leading group and was overtaken by Ian Lowry early on with the Padgetts Honda taking its place at the rear of a five-man fight at the front.
Laverty's lead was short lived as Byrne breezed past him on the run down to the first corner on lap four. Keen to keep him in sight, Hill repeated Shakey's move on the next time, and settled into second. Further back, Brookes was finding the going tough and at half distance started to become detached from the leading trio. Fortunately for the championship leader, he no longer had a threat from behind with Lowry crashing out at Scotsman.
The gap between Byrne and Hill fluctuated but remained under a second as Tommy kept the pressure on but the experienced Byrne didn't crack, claiming a relatively comfortable win with Michael Laverty following Hill home in third. Brookes' pace dropped so badly that he ended up eight seconds off the lead but nevertheless, he maintained fourth.
Supersonic BMW's Tommy Bridewell rode superbly to grab fifth with some decisive overtaking. Graeme Gowland surrendered sixth on lap 22 as the Wiltshire rider outbraked him into the Real Radio Hairpin and Bridewell overhauled Noriyuki Haga five laps from home too, demoting the no.41 to sixth.
Alastair Seeley got the better of Gowland for seventh with Alex Lowes beating Michael Rutter to ninth after an early pass at the Real Radio Hairpin. The tight right-hander caused trouble early on for James Hillier though who highsided his Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki on the opening lap.