James Ellison got his title challenge off to a flying start in the first MCE British Superbike race of the season at Donington Park.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider showed aggression from the get-go and could not be caught by reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, who ended up on the second step of the podium.
Josh Brookes joined them on the podium following a great battle with Honda’s Dan Linfoot in the final few laps, with the pair nearly coming together on the finish straight.
Peter Hickman showed some impressive pace once more on the RAF Reserves BMW to finish in a comfortable fifth place, ahead of Tyco BMW’s Tommy Bridewell and Bennetts Sukuki’s Christian Iddon.
Chris Walker and Michael Laverty battled it out for eighth and ninth places respectively, with Richard Cooper rounding out the top-10 on his Anvil Tag Racing Kawasaki machine.
It was a poor opening race for pole-sitter Ryuichi Kiyonari, who fell down the order at the first corner and was unable to keep up with the pace set at the front. The Buildbase BMW rider ended up finishing in 14th place.
Be Wiser Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan crashed out of the race whilst challenging for a podium finish, with Smith Racing BMW’s Billy McConnell also suffering from a crash midway through the race.
At the start it was Kiyonari who initially got off the line well but Byrne went down the inside at the first corner, with Kiyonari pushed out wide and down to seventh by the other frontrunners.
Ellison showed some aggression as he challenged Byrne for the lead, with Buchan moving up to third place ahead of Easton and Linfoot.
The safety car was call upon on lap two following a nasty crash for Rhalf Lo Turco at the Melbourne Loop. The SBK City Racing Kawasaki rider was stretched away by the marshals following the incident.
After the re-start, Byrne tried to pull away but lost the lead to Ellison following a great move down the inside at Hollywood by the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider.
McConnell’s race came to an end on lap six, with the Smiths Racing BMW rider crashing out from eighth place at Coppice.
Over the next few laps there was a great battle going on between Buchan and Hickman for fifth place, with the pair exchanging positions on a few occasions. Buchan’s race would come to an end on lap 11, with the 21-year-old crashing at the Foggy Esses.
Both Team WD40 riders, Taylor Mackenzie and Jack Kennedy, suffered from technical issues towards the end of the race. Jakub Smrz suffered the same fate on his Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati machine and will be hoping that his luck will finally change in race two.
Back at the front there was a great battle going on between Linfoot and Brookes for the final podium position. Brookes went down the inside of Linfoot at Foggy Esses on the final lap, before Linfoot tried to repay the favour going into the final corner. It was a drag race to the line between the two riders, but it was the Yamaha machine that came out on top as Brookes celebrated another podium finish.
Ahead of them, Ellison pulled out a lead going into the final lap and could not be caught by Byrne. The victory was Ellison’s first since 2013 and the first-ever for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team.
Donington Park Race 1 Result
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