Tommy Hill totally dominated the Saturday action at Oulton Park with a comfortable pole position followed by a lights to flag victory in race one. The defending champion was never seriously challenged once Michael Laverty crashed out of second on lap four with the close racing coming behind him.
The in-form Laverty was running right on the tail of Hill when he lost control of his Samsung Honda machine at Brittens. Fortunately, the riders following him were able to avoid him and his motorbike, although Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes made contact in doing so and Hill was able to extend his lead to over two seconds.
Hill was untouchable from that point and sprinted into the distance, winning by 4.5 seconds, and was delighted to take maximum points from the opening race, taking second on the grid for race two in the process.
“I really wanted that win and to start the weekend with that was the best possible start after getting the pole position earlier. There are a few areas we need to polish up on but it was a good race and I need to thank the Swan Yamaha team. I didn’t really know what was happening behind me; I just saw the gap on my board but I just kept my head down and did the job. It was a fantastic race and hopefully we can have more of the same tomorrow.”
The fight for second between Byrne and Brookes would go down to the wire and the Australian would the crucial extra podium credit after outbraking the Kawasaki into Lodge on the last lap. The result moves him a point ahead of Byrne for second in the championship and the move that did it gave Josh great satisfaction.
“I’d like to say I knew I had it covered but it was a crazy race out there today. When Michael Laverty went down I was unsighted, so when Shane Byrne lifted to avoid him I got bumped onto the grass. That let Tommy get away at the front but I worked my way back onto ‘Shakey’s’ back wheel, but the only place I felt strong enough to make the pass was the final corner at Lodge. Fortunately all went to plan.”
Alex Lowes was looking good for fourth on the WFR Honda only to crash out at half distance. The good news for the 21 year old, who shone on an EVO bike here last year, is that he set the fastest lap, earning him pole position for tomorrow's second race of the weekend.
Lowes misfortune handed 13 valuable points to Noriyuki Haga who has closed to within a point of the championship showdown positions. The final place is currently held by Ian Lowry who also fell off this afternoon. James Westmoreland kept his WFR Honda upright to claim fifth ahead of the ever-consistent Tommy Bridewell while Chris Walker defied the pain in his injured heels to finish seventh. Peter Hickman was eighth for Buildbase BMW while Graeme Gowland and Barry Burrell completed the top ten.