Josh Brookes dominated proceedings in the opening race of the day at Brands Hatch to secure his first win of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Brookes stormed into the lead at the start of the race and was left mostly unchallenged apart from a late push from pole-sitter Glenn Irwin, who had to settle for second spot.
Championship leader Leon Haslam inherited the final podium spot from Tarran Mackenize, who crashed out of the race at Hawthorn on the penultimate lap. Mackenzie was one lap away from his first-ever BSB podium.
Jake Dixon took fourth spot on the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki after getting the better of Christian Iddon in the closing stages. Peter Hickman was next in sixth, ahead of Richard Cooper and Danny Buchan.
Andrew Irwin put in another impressive performance on the Be Wiser Ducati to take ninth, with Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty completing the top 10. Alongside Mackenzie, Dan Linfoot and Luke Mossey also crashed out of the race, whilst James Ellison was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
The start of the race saw Brookes launch off the line and take the lead away from Irwin before the pack entered the first corner. Mackenzie also got off the line well to move up into third, with Iddon slotting into fourth position.
Brookes and Irwin swapped positions multiple times in the opening two laps but it was the Australian who would hold position and begin to pull away at the front.
Irwin would momentarily lose second spot to Iddon on lap four, however he soon fought back and regained the position on the following lap. Ellison’s weekend went from bad to worse moments later as he toured back into the pits with some form of mechanical problem.
Linfoot’s race would also come to a premature end on lap six, with the Honda Racing man crashing out at Westfield. Linfoot appeared to be in some pain, grabbing his ankle and leg.
Back on the track, Mackenzie had found some pace and managed to overtake Iddon for the final podium position. Behind them, Mossey crashed out of seventh place at Stirlings.
Things would calm down over the next few laps, with Mackenzie trying his best to catch the leading duo. By lap 13, Haslam was all over the back of Iddon in the battle for fourth and soon made his move.
As the race entered the final couple of laps Brookes put in the fastest lap of the race and looked to be secure at the front. With only one lap remaining there was heartbreak for Mackenzie on the McAMS Yamaha, which was painted in a special R1 20th Anniversary livery, as he crashed out of third at Hawthorn. The result would have been his best BSB finish of his career so far.
On the final lap Irwin found some pace and it looked like he was about to launch an attack on Brookes for the win. It was not to be however and Brookes crossed the line to secure his first win of the season.
Victory means that Brookes now has a place in the top six showdown spots. By having the fastest lap-time, Brookes will also start the second race of the day from pole position.