Stuart Easton claimed his first British Superbike Championship victory since 2010 in the second race at Oulton Park, holding off James Ellison and Josh Brookes after Ryuichi Kiyonari and Shane 'Shakey' Byrne clashed.
On the opening lap Easton hit the front of the pack with a tremendous launch off the front row to lead Kiyonari, Tommy Bridewell, Brookes and Byrne on the opening lap. The tussle for the lead began instantly and Kiyonari claimed the lead with a decisive move down the inside at Lodge on the opening lap.
Bridewell was also on the move and he passed Easton at Cascades on the second lap, with Byrne pushing ahead of his PBM Kawasaki team-mate Easton as the positions shuffled. Bridewell then had Kiyonari in his sights and on the third lap he took the lead at Old Hall to put the Tyco BMW back at the front of the pack, but it was short lived as he crashed out unhurt a lap later at Hizzys Chicane.
Kiyonari was back in the lead but was coming under intense pressure from Byrne, who in turn had Easton, Ellison and Brookes for company. Byrne was eyeing a move but couldn't make it stick until the ninth lap when he dived ahead at Shell Oils corner to take the lead. Kiyonari was immediately on the attack back and reclaimed the position with a pass at Lodge on the same lap.
Kiyonari then led the race until he had a moment at Island on lap 15, giving Byrne the edge into Shell Oils corner again. The Buildbase BMW rider was hunting his next opportunity, but there was drama on the next lap as the Japanese contender clipped the back wheel of Byrne into Hizzys Chicane and the pair went down.
That left a three-way scrap at the front of the field between Easton, Ellison and Brookes for the victory over the final two laps. Easton was holding the advantage but Ellison pushed hard, trying to take the lead on the outside line at Lodge, but Easton had the better exit and speed towards the chequered flag. Brookes was just adrift to claim his second podium finish of the day.
Easton said: "I am very happy, more relieved than anything to get a win for the first time since I had my 2011 injuries. I came back did some Supersport and now we are finally back on the top step in MCE BSB, it was a fair bit fortunate but at the same time, the top six or however many there was were all so equally matched today anyway, you could have ridden a great race and been at the back of the pack. It fell for me today and we will gladly take it and move on to the next one. This is definitely a confidence booster, for the first three meetings this year we have pretty much run with the boys at the front so like I say the top six is really close if not the top eight, we have had a good day today and if we can keep working hard and look forward to the next one."
Michael Laverty and Jason O'Halloran were embroiled in a battle throughout the race with the pair finishing fourth and fifth respectively. In the next pack Howie Mainwaring had snatched the advantage from Richard Cooper, Billy McConnell and Chris Walker whilst Lee Jackson scored his first top ten finish of the season.