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Alex Lowes has manoeuvred himself into the MCE British Superbike Championship title fight after claiming a long-awaited first win for both himself and the WFR Honda team at Silverstone.
Despite having only two BSB podiums to his name, the in-form youngster came into the race as the hot favourite for victory after dominating free practice and qualifying, though it remained to be seen if Lowes could carry that form over a race distance.
As it happens, after confidently jostling with the leaders over the opening laps, Lowes would eventually stretch his advantage over the second half of the race to win by a commanding five-second margin.
Indeed, Lowes was made to work hard over the opening laps, his overtake for the lead on Laverty down the Hangar Straight on lap two followed by Shane Byrne pulling a similar move on lap five.
However, Byrne's hopes of challenging for the win would effectively come to an end just a few corners later at Brooklands when he missed his braking point and ran wide, dropping him down to sixth and reinstating Lowes into the lead.
Even so, Lowes still had close company in the shape of Tommy Bridewell, who was putting in an inspired performance on the Supersonic BMW. Struggling in practice and qualifying to start only 12th, Bridewell scythed his way up the order during the early laps to set the fastest lap (which would give him pole position for race two) and even momentarily nose ahead into the lead for the first time in his career.
In the end, Lowes would edge ahead as Bridewell became embroiled in a busy fight for second place, the BMW rider allowing the leader to make his escape to the chequered flag.
Despite his best efforts, Bridewell was struggling to contain Laverty, championship leader Josh Brookes, James Westmoreland – who had also joined the fight in the second-half of the race – and a recovering Byrne.
Laverty would find his way through with four laps remaining, before Byrne – having dispatched of Brookes and then Westmoreland – would follow suit on lap 11 to move back up to third position.
It was too late for Laverty and Byrne to do anything about Lowes though, the youngster proving the quickest rider on the circuit in the closing stages to take the chequered flag by more than five seconds.
A full 25 points to help his burgeoning title campaign, Lowes has now ascended to third in the overall standings on 559 points, 29 points behind Byrne, whose last lap pass of Laverty earned him 20 points for second, enough to see him move back ahead of Brookes in the overall standings.
Brookes would eventually cross the line in fourth place behind Laverty, the Australian dropping five points in arrears of Byrne as a result.
Westmoreland's run to fifth place has strengthened his chances of winning the 'BSB Cup', particularly as Noriyuki Haga finished outside the top 15, while Bridewell had to contend with a slightly unsatisfying sixth place after arguably his finest ride of the season.
Meanwhile, the first Silverstone race would prove to be a disaster for pre-Showdown favourite Tommy Hill, the front row starter unable to match the pace of his rivals as he trailed in a distant seventh position. The result means he has slipped behind Lowes in the standings and is 31 points off the lead with four races remaining.
Behind him, Luca Scassa got the better of Padgetts Honda team-mate Ian Lowry for eighth, while Chris Walker rounded out the top ten. Robbin Harms, Jon Kirkham, Karl Harris, Peter Hickman and Patric Muff completed the points' paying positions.