Easton edges Camier in Oulton thriller
10 October 2009
Stuart Easton has won his second MCE British Superbike Championship race of the season after coming out top in a thrilling four-way fight for victory at Oulton Park.
The Scot was embroiled in a race-long exchange with Leon Camier, James Ellison and Tommy Hill from start-to-finish, but it would take a dramatic last lap move over new champion Camier to put the win beyond his rivals.
Arguably the most exciting race of the season thus far, it nonetheless began on a somewhat sour note after the first start was red flagged three laps in due to a vicious accident for Karl Harris.
A frantic start had seen Easton and Hill dispute the race lead in the early stages, the pair already swapping positions once when Hill attempted to regain the lead on the long left-hander at Island.
However, with both Hill and Easton running wide, the following Harris attempted to capitalise by moving up the inside, a line that would become the outside heading into the Shell hairpin. Unsighted to the left of the recovering Hill, Harris was baulked onto the grass and left with no choice but to go off. With his SMT Honda digging into ground, both bike and rider were flung across the gravel, Harris himself hitting the wall hard.
The race was duly stopped while medics attended to Harris, who remained conscious but is reported to be suffering from a suspected back injury.
With the race restarted in the order they completed the third lap, Hill began on pole position, but while it was fourth place Ellison that got the best getaway, Easton would assume the position again heading into Cascades.
Undeterred, Ellison struck back on the run down to Hizzy's, slipping up the inside of Easton to move back ahead, the pair followed by Hill, the fast-starting Simon Andrews and Camier.
With the top five quickly pulling away from the chasing pack, led by Chris Walker and Sylvain Guintoli, Andrews was the man on the move, getting the better of Hill to move into third place. Camier followed him through with a bold outside-to-inside pass through Island and Shell, a technique he would repeat on lap four to pass Andrews for third.
Andrews' fortunes, however, were about to take a turn for the worse, the Kawasaki seemingly hitting problems to fall into the chasing pack and reduce the front group to four.
Back at the front, having spent a few laps getting back on terms with his rival, Easton got the better of Ellison again to reassume the lead, Camier following later on in the lap with a clean pass on his team-mate at Lodge.
Now in pursuit of Easton with six laps of the race remaining, Camier immediately began to put pressure on the Scot. However, Easton's apparent superior straight line was negating Camier's strength in the bends, the Croft winner not putting a wheel wrong as he confidently kept the new runaway champion at bay.
Camier's persistence would be rewarded though when he out-braked Easton into Lodge, the 23-year-old succeeding in pulling Ellison through too before quickly putting on a sprint for the finish.
However, having rebuffed Ellison's pass with a move back into second almost immediately, Easton was not allowing Camier to pull away, signalling his intentions at the start of the final lap by overtaking at Old Hall.
Although Camier would slip back up the inside again, Easton would shadow him through the Cascades, Shell and Britten's to get good speed on the run down to Hizzy's. Pulling up alongside, Easton dived past into the lead, giving Camier no chance to respond.
Despite Camier's best efforts to get him back, Easton rounded Deer Leap to take a popular victory for the Hydrex outfit.
There was double joy for Shaun Muir's team too after Hill got himself up to third by mirroring his team-mate's pass on the final lap, this time over Ellison. Ellison had to settle for fourth, just 0.3secs from the winner.
Beyond the fight for victory, the battle for fifth went down to the chequered flag, Andrews' problems backing up a line of eight bikes. A superb display of defensive riding ensured he would allow through just one rider – Guintoli – to cross the line an important sixth.
Julien Da Costa followed his team-mate in seventh, ahead of Ian Lowry and Walker, while John Laverty completed the top ten on his Buildbase Kawasaki. Alastair Seeley had been on course for a possible top ten finish on his debut, only for him to crash heavily at Hizzy's with two laps remaining.
Others to miss out on a finish included Josh Brookes, who was up to second by turn two of the first start, only for a terminal mechanical problem to strike him almost as quickly.
Graeme Gowland, meanwhile, suffered possibly the season's most unusual accident, the Henderson/Motorpoint Yamaha coming down into Cascades before proceeding to vault the barrier and land in the lake on the inside of the circuit.