Airwaves Yamaha star Leon Camier finally laid his Cadwell Park demons to rest with a crushing victory in the opening encounter in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli outing around the daunting Lincolnshire track – his 15th triumph of an utterly dominant 2009 campaign.
However, it was Kawasaki ace Simon Andrews who got the hole shot heading into Coppice for the first time when the starting lights went out, going on to duel it out side-by-side with Stuart Easton on the Hydrex Honda before the latter grabbed the lead. Though initially slipping back to third, pole-sitter Camier rapidly made amends and – after his initial pass at Charlies was swiftly offset by a counter-punch into Barn – the championship leader made a move stick next time around to set off in hot pursuit of Easton. At the same place on lap three, the 23-year-old repeated the move to snatch the lead – and from thereon in would never look back, storming away to an advantage of more than seven seconds at the chequered flag.
That left Camier's rivals to squabble over the scraps in his wake, with Easton, James Ellison and Relentless Suzuki by TAS rookie Ian Lowry all fancying a piece of the action. A tardy getaway had left Ellison just fifth, but a strong fight back saw him move past the Buildbase Kawasaki of John Laverty at Coppice during the course of a lively lap two, and an error from Andrews at Charlies elevated him to third.
Rebuffing Ellison's every advance, Easton rode a perfect defensive race to fend his inseparable pursuers off all the way to the end as the former tried everything he knew how to make it a double celebration for Airwaves Yamaha to atone for his comparatively lowly qualifying position the previous day. At speeds of up to 200mph, Ellison tried again and again to find a way by – particularly at the end of the Park Straight – but the daringly late-braking Easton was not to be displaced, despite the pair coming close to touching on a number of occasions.
Lowry impressively held on to fourth to bring home his best finish of his Superbike career to-date – less than half a second shy of the final place on the rostrum and eight tenths adrift of the runner-up laurels, and lifting him to the same place in the overall championship standings – with duelling Confused.com Kawasaki pairing Andrews and Julien Da Costa a distant fifth and sixth respectively, though both very nearly came to grief on the very last lap after the Frenchman had made a move only for his team-mate to attempt to snatch it back again and run wide, in the process sending both riders across the grass.
Karl Muggeridge made good progress from his grid slot of 13th to wind up an eventual seventh, just ahead of series returnee Sylvain Guintoli aboard the Worx Crescent Suzuki, the Frenchman recovering from a jittery first few laps to regain both track position and also his confidence ahead of race two later in the day.
Laverty, Cup winner Gary Mason, Chris Walker, John McGuinness, Tommy Bridewell, Peter Hickman and Karl Harris rounded out the finishers.
“That race definitely all went to plan and it was just awesome for me to win here,” enthused Camier afterwards. “I just need to keep doing it and not lose focus, as you can't get complacent. We have had a smooth weekend so far, so to win the race is a great result for the Airwaves Yamaha team. All I can say is 'job's a dream'!”
“Myself and James had a great battle,” added runner-up Easton of the pressure he had been under. “There were a couple of times when I could see the flash of blue out the corner of my eye, so I knew it was going to be a tough one. I just had to hold my lines and squeeze him in a couple of places to keep the place.
“I am definitely happy to have split the two Airwaves Yamahas, but it wasn't my best ride. I was pushing hard and we were struggling in a few places with the chassis, but I am going to sit down with the team and come up with something that might give us that little bit extra in the next race.”
“That was a tough one!” remarked Ellison, ruing his poor start as he bids to keep his fading title hopes alive. “The problem was, I was quicker in the corners but not able to really get the better of him as he was so fast in a straight line. I was trying to line him up so far in advance as I thought I could make a lunge, but at 200mph with just about a two-foot gap to get through it was certainly difficult!
“There were a couple of moves that were a bit close; we were on the dirt a few times so you could see we were both giving 100 per cent! We need to get a better start in the next one as I had to fight through a few people, but we seem to be turning the weekend around again now.”
To see the race result in full, click here