Josh Brookes kicked of the British Superbike Championship showdown in style with a crushing victory in race one at Assen. The Australian led from start to finish, powering away from James Ellison in the second half of proceedings, to immediately open up a commanding lead in the race for the title.
Given his astonishing pace throughout practice and qualifying, Brookes was an overwhelming favourite heading into the opening race of the showdown but Ellison kept him honest early on despite a new lap record from the Milwaukee Yamaha man. By half distance though, the relentless pace began to take its toll and the JB Speedfit Kawasaki gradually lost touch.
Shane Byrne, who started the race just two points adrift of Brookes, was the next rider lining up for a move on Ellison but instead of going on the offensive, ‘Shakey’ found himself under pressure from the Moto Rapido Ducati of John Hopkins. An error at the Timmer chicane promoted the American to third and although Byrne responded two laps later, his place on the podium was still under threat.
With six laps remaining, the PBM Kawasaki now had Michael Laverty’s Tyco BMW for company and on the run towards Ruskenhoek, the Ulsterman snatched the place. To make matters worse for the reigning champion, Hopkins demoted him for a second time at the Timmer chicane, but Byrne ultimately had the last word to salvage fourth.
Hopkins finished fifth ahead of Richard Cooper and Christian Iddon while Tommy Bridewell’s title hopes took a serious blow with eighth. Dan Linfoot’s chances also look remote, even at this early stage after he could only pick up a couple of points for fourteenth.