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Maiden triumph for Sykes

20 July 2008

Tom Sykes has stormed to his maiden Bennetts British Superbike win after an imperious performance in the first race of the weekend at Oulton Park.

A race full of overtaking, Sykes made the most of an opportunistic move on James Ellison on lap seven to romp away with victory by almost five seconds.

Making up for his tardy start from pole position last time out at Mallory Park, Sykes got away well from third on the grid to dip into Old Hall in the lead, just ahead of Leon Haslam, who got the better of team-mate Cal Crutchlow round the first corner.

However, both HM Plant Hondas could do nothing about a charging Ellison, who got a stunning start from eighth on the grid to wrestle his way up into second place by the time the field reached the third corner at Island.

So, as they came over the brow of the hill and onto the start-finish line Sykes led the way, ahead of Ellison, Haslam, Karl Harris, Crutchlow, Simon Andrews and Shane Byrne, the championship leader getting shuffled down the order to seventh.

Much like he was in the early stages of the races at Donington Park, Ellison was on a charge, the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda rider snatching the lead when he and Sykes embarked on an enjoyable 'tug of war' into Island, through Shell Oils Hairpin and finally at Britten's.

Just behind, pole sitter Crutchlow was also making up ground, passing Harris and then Haslam on the same lap, before quickly latching onto the tail of Sykes.

However, the Rizla Suzuki rider's concentration was focused entirely on Ellison, his persistence paying off eventually on lap seven when he dived down the inside at Hislop Chicane. Close but clean, it was the decisive move Sykes needed to go on and lead to the chequered flag.

Crutchlow was soon giving chase again as he passed Ellison on lap nine, but the Honda rider's hopes came to an abrupt end when he suffered an off that dropped him down to eighth position.

At the same time, Byrne and Harris were involved in a rather controversial clash. The Airwaves Ducati rider had been battling back into contention as he attempted to slip up the inside of Harris at Shell Oils Hairpin when the Yamaha rider ran wide. However, when Harris came back onto his line, Byrne was already there and the two made contact, the consequence being Harris was forced to underside off the circuit into another retirement.

The shake up left Sykes ahead of Ellison now, with Byrne now chasing Haslam for third. Although the former Ducati rider resisted for some time, Byrne finally made a move stick on lap 14 at Lodge. Giving Byrne just six laps to catch and pass Ellison, he cut the gap down remarkably quickly but just ran out of time to deny him another podium.

The race was all about Sykes though, 'The Grinner' recording Rizla Suzuki's first victory in two years when Byrne won at Knockhill in 2006.

Behind Byrne in third, Haslam finished a lonely fourth, while Simon Andrews achieved his objective of a top five finish in fifth.

Crutchlow recovered to a rather unsatisfying sixth as his Oulton Park demons came to haunt him again, while Mallory winner Michael Rutter was a quiet seventh when the much anticipated rain failed to arrive.

Billy McConnell scored a solid result for MSS Discovery in eighth, while the Laverty brothers rounded out the top ten, Michael leading Daily Star Cup winner John.

Leon Camier, meanwhile, will not take part in the rest of the weekend after deciding he wasn't fit enough to compete following his fall in warm-up.


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