Leon Haslam secured his third win of the season in the opening race of the day at Oulton Park, after withstanding immense pressure from Shane Byrne throughout the race.
Byrne was glued to the back wheel of his rival for the majority of the race but he was unable to make a move on the championship leader – who didn’t make a mistake all race.
Haslam eventually managed to cross the line +2.632s ahead of Byrne, who began to struggle with the soft tyre set-up in his Be Wiser Ducati.
The duo were joined by Luke Mossey on the podium, with the double-winner from Brands Hatch also involved in the battle for the lead early-on.
Behind the top three there was a immense battle for fourth place, containing seven riders. Eventually Jason O’Halloran managed to take the position after going down the inside of Peter Hickman at the final corner.
James Ellison tried to go around the outside of Hickman coming across the line but to no avail – the Cumbrian having to setting for sixth place.
Josh Brookes was next-up in seventh place after also struggling with the soft tyres in the later stages. He was followed across the line by Christian Iddon and Glen Irwin who, like Brookes and Byrne, struggled with his tyre set-up.
It was a great start to the race for Haslam, who bolted into the lead by the time they reached turn one. The opening few laps of the race were quiet, with each rider within the leading pack exchanging fastest lap-times.
By the start of lap seven Haslam had Byrne all over the back of him, with Mossey only a few bike-lengths away from the leading duo. Lap seven also marked the end of the race for Bradley Ray, with the rookie crashing out of the race at Old Hall Corner.
Fellow Suzuki rider Sylvain Guintoli also retired from the race at the end of the lap, with the Frenchman pulling into the Bennetts Suzuki garage.
The front-three would continue to be nose-to-tail for the next few laps, each trying to better each other’s lap-times. Despite the closeness of the three riders, there was never a clear-cut move made.
It was behind the leading three where things were beginning to heat-up. Irwin was catching Brookes for fourth place, and he was bringing O’Halloran along with him.
O’Halloran would make his move on Irwin going through turn one. Seconds later there was a huge moment for Irwin as he came out of Cascades, with the Ducati coming very close to throwing him over the handlebars. This moment allowed Hickman to take advantage and move into fifth.
By the end of the lap O’Halloran had disposed of Brookes for fourth position. Meanwhile Irwin, who clearly had some grip issues, was caught by a resurgent Ellison.
Things were not going so well for Ellison’s McAMS Yamaha teammate, with Michael Laverty pulling into the garage at the end of lap 14. There’s a chance that this issue was connected to his huge crash in qualifying yesterday afternoon.
Back on the track it was Iddon who was beginning to make his move – by getting the better of Ellison and Irwin in in the space of a lap. At the front, Haslam and Byrne began to pull away from Mossey, who was visibly trying extremely hard to stick with them.
Lap 17 saw Ellison leapfrog Iddon for seventh at turn one, before turning his attention to Brookes for sixth at Knickerbrook. The former MotoGP man now had his sights firmly set on O’Halloran and Hickman as they entered the final lap of the race.
The trio could not be separated at they came down to Lodge Corner but it was O’Halloran who put in a strong move down the inside of Hickman for fourth.
Ellison tried to take advantage by going around the outside of Hickman coming out of the last corner but there was not enough grip for the Yamaha and he had to settle for sixth.
Back at the front Haslam had already taken victory after pulling away from Byrne in the final two laps of the race. The result means that Haslam now has an 11 point lead over Mossey in the championship.