Tommy Hill took first blood in the first round of the new MCE British Superbike Championship Showdown format to leave Sunday's Croft round with a 16 point title lead.

Croft was the first of three Showdown rounds that will decide the 2010 title. The top six riders had their points equalised prior to the event, with only podium credits added for their efforts during the Main Season.

That meant Hill started Sunday's round tied at the top with former double champion Ryuichi Kiyonari.

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But Kiyonari, like HM Plant Honda team-mate Josh Brookes - who began Sunday just one point behind the title leaders - struggled to make an impression at Croft, leaving pole sitter Hill to battle it out for race victories with fellow Suzuki rider and title fighter Michael Laverty.

Hill just held off the Relentless rider in race one, but their positions were reversed after an equally close second race.

"I'm really happy with the first race, for once it was a race that went to plan. I was able to push on and feel comfortable," said Hill. "I was very comfortable in the second race, too. I was able to pull Michael in quite comfortably and I sat behind him for a few laps to see his strengths.

"Then I passed him as planned - only when I wound the wick up he went with me! It was a good race and in the end he was able to do what I had done in the first race, to get in front and to protect his line.

"So I can't be 100% happy, but I'm in the best position of anybody in the championship so I'm not complaining. Michael was great today and he's shown this is no three-horse race as it's been called, all the guys in the top-six are there for a reason. Bring on Silverstone!"

Although both Hill and Laverty scored 45 points on Sunday, Hill's extra podium credits from the Main Season mean he is 16 points in front of his new nearest title rival.

Kiyonari and Brookes are already 27 and 28 points back in third and fourth after damage limitation rides, but Worx Crescent Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine insists the team won't be backing off.

"We're going directly to Silverstone now for some testing on the new track. As ever we can't be complacent, I'm sure the opposition will be fierce as ever and clearly we have to watch for attacks coming from all directions!" he said.