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Tyco Suzuki's Josh Brookes claimed his maiden MCE British Superbike Championship victory of the season during a dramatic opener at Brands Hatch as series leader Shane Byrne bit the dust.
Aussie Brookes took the lead on the fourth lap on his GSX-R1000 and stayed there until the chequered flag after 18 laps to win from Samsung Honda pair Alex Lowes and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Byrne had looked menacing in behind his Suzuki rival after passing Lowes and attempted to take the lead into
Hawthorn with five laps to go, but lost the front end of his Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Byrne luckily walked away from the high-speed spill and his team now faces a race against time to repair his machine for race two this afternoon.
It was Byrne who seized the initiative from pole position but Lowes hit the front at Surtees to lead at the end of lap one from Byrne, Brookes, Kiyonari and Chris Walker.
Brookes moved ahead three laps later after taking second place from Byrne and edging in front of Lowes.
The top three began to drop Kiyonari in fourth place as they set a searing pace at the front.
On lap seven, Walker and Milwaukee Yamaha's James Ellison went down at Graham Hill Bend as Brookes continued to lead the way.
Lowes and Byrne exchanged blows in the battle for second place, with Byrne settling in behind Brookes on the 12th lap as he began to line up a pass.
However, disaster struck on the next lap as the championship leader fell at Hawthorn, leaving Brookes and Lowes clear in front with Kiyonari assuming third.
Brookes looked in control of the race on his Tyco Suzuki as he maintained a lead of half a second and although Lowes mounted a final lap challenge, the Australian seemed to have matters in hand and held on to earn a deserved victory – his first of the season.
Kiyonari was a lonely third, eight seconds in arrears, with Buildbase BMW's James Westmoreland on his own in fourth.
American rookie PJ Jacobsen finished an impressive fifth on the second Tyco Suzuki with Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) rounding out the top six.
Byrne's lead at the top of the championship standings has now been slashed to 10 points from Brookes, who is two points ahead of Lowes in third position.