Relentless TAS Suzuki's Michael Laverty came into the first round of the new BSB Showdown format just fifth out of the six Title Fighters, but threw himself firmly into championship contention by taking 2-1 finishes at Croft on Sunday.

Laverty narrowly lost out to Worx Crescent Suzuki rider and Main Season title leader Tommy Hill in race one, but beat the Englishman with a penultimate lap pass in race two for his second win of the season.

The pair thus took equal points, with Hill only leading Laverty by the 16 extra podium points he had earned during the Main Season.

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"It's been an excellent weekend for us. We have been strong in every session and continually worked on our set-up," said Laverty. "Race one wasn't perfect as I struggled a little bit in the middle sector but I still brought the fight to Tommy at the end of the race.

"For race two we made a few small tweaks to the set up and it made all the difference. I took charge of the race and felt really comfortable out front. It was a good battle with Tommy over the last couple of laps, but I was determined to come out on top this time around.

"It's now game-on for the Championship with two rounds remaining but I am well up for the fight. A big thanks has to go to the team this weekend; they worked hard in the garage to give me what I needed to win."

Team manager Philip Neill was delighted with Laverty's performance, labelling it as awesome.

"There's only one word to describe that performance from Michael: Awesome. We came into this season as underdogs and some people even wrote us off before the season got underway," he said. "We have a lot of experience in racing and combining that with a hard-working team and two equally-talented and hard-working riders, it is finally paying off.

"I've said all along that Michael Laverty has the potential to be the best rider in British Championship racing and today we got more than a glimpse of that. What is more pleasing was seeing him combine all his qualities today: speed, resilience, a professional attitude and a calm head when it mattered most.

"He got a lot of hard moves thrown at him by Tommy, but he fought back and proved that he had a better package today. It may seem strange but we are a little disappointed not to have won both races at Croft today.

"Michael has taken a bit of criticism for his reserved style at times this year, but as he said himself when interviewed - the time to bring the 'A Game' to the grid is in the final seven races and he's silenced a few critics today."

Team-mate Alastair Seeley, the sixth Title Fighter, was 'taken out' by Gary Mason in race one, then finished just 15th in race two.

"I had a good start in race one and was making progress until Gary Mason took me out at the Hairpin, and with a broken clutch lever I couldn't re-start which I wasn't too happy about," he said.

"In race two I wasn't feeling that comfortable with a number of small little problems hampering my progress, but that's racing. Croft basically proved more difficult than I imagined but my head's not down and I'm looking forward to Silverstone and Oulton."

"Alastair didn't find his comfort zone at this circuit but I don't want him dropping his head. His job this season, as a series Rookie, was to make the top six and that box has been well and truly ticked already," added Neill. "He is capable of much more and we will move forward with optimism for our number 34. "