Ryuichi Kiyonari came through from ninth on the grid to take a well deserved victory in race one at Oulton Park.
The Japanese rider pulled off a string of beautiful overtaking moves to claim his first win of 2011 ahead of John Hopkins and Stuart Easton.
The drama began though even before the red lights had gone out, with Tommy Hill crashing out in the warm-up and being forced to watch from the sidelines. As a result, teammate Michael Laverty was promoted to pole position and made an excellent start to lead into turn one, with Josh Brookes leapfrogging Hopkins into second.
The American retook second at the Shell Oils Hairpin on lap four and set about closing the gap to Laverty while further back, Kiyonari had set the fastest lap and was up to seventh.
After qualifying sixth, Easton was starting to become a threat to the leaders. The MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider overtook Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes on consecutive laps to move up into third on lap six.
Easton attempted a similar move at the Hislop chicane on lap nine but left it a little too late on the brakes and was forced to take a trip through the grass. The Scotsman very nearly collected Brookes on his way back on track, with the confusion allowing the dangerous Kiyonari to sneak through into third.
The reigning champion immediately seized his opportunity by first passing Hopkins on lap ten, and then diving up the inside of Laverty into Lodge corner next time around.
The early leader began to slip back as Hopkins and Easton demoted him to fourth on lap thirteen, but his troubles weren't over just yet.
Shane Byrne hadn't made progress quite as quickly as his teammate, but the second HM Plant Honda was starting to move into contention. With five laps to go, Byrne demoted Josh Brookes to sixth and cruised straight onto the tail of Laverty, eventually snatching fourth three laps from home.
Kiyonari cruised to his fourth straight victory at Oulton Park while Hopkins settled for a safe second ahead of Easton, Byrne and Laverty with Brookes completing the top six.
Jon Kirkham made up for his qualifying disappointment with a strong ride to seventh, while Loris Baz finished a disappointing eighth after starting on the front row.
The standout performer was undoubtedly Alex Lowes. The 20-year-old from Lincoln finished 12th to comfortably take victory in the EVO class but, incredibly, his fastest race lap was second only to Kiyonari's, earning him a front row start for race two.
Kiyonari will start from pole, with Lowes, Brookes and Easton joining him on the front row. John Hopkins will start back in eight while Michael Laverty paid the price for his defensive ride in race one. The Northern Irishman's fastest lap was only good enough for 11th on the race two grid.
Race One Result: Oulton Park (18 Laps)
1. Ryuichi KIYONARI (HM Plant Honda) 29:06.776
2. John HOPKINS (Samsung Crescent Racing) +4.150
3. Stuart EASTON (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +4.336
4. Shane BYRNE (HM Plant Honda) +4.646
5. Michael LAVERTY (Swan Yamaha) +4.684
6. Josh BROOKES (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.105
7. Jon KIRKHAM (Samsung Crescent Racing) +13.582
8. Loris BAZ (Motorpoint Yamaha) +16.637
9. Gary MASON (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +19.108
10. Dan LINFOOT (Team Sorrymate.com) +19.452