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Croft: Camier storms to Croft victory

14 September 2008

Leon Camier has secured his second win of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship season after storming to victory in the opening race of the weekend at Croft.

The Airwaves Ducati rider, who took his first win of the year at Snetterton back in June, stormed through the field having started in sixth place to get ahead of Leon Haslam for the victory, while the podium was completed by Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes after a somewhat forceful move on the final lap on points leader Shane Byrne.

At the start pole-man Cal Crutchlow was able to hold his lead off the line as the field streamed into Clervaux for the first time, with Tom Sykes slotting into second and Michael Rutter holding third. However, Rutter lost out to both Leon Haslam and Byrne before the end of the opening lap while Sykes moved into the lead as he dived past Crutchlow at the final hairpin.

The HM Plant rider tried to go with Sykes on the second lap but he lost out to team-mate Haslam at the Complex to drop to third while further back, Camier was dicing for fifth with Rutters NW200 Ducati.

Having cleared Crutchlow, Haslam was closing in on Sykes who appeared to be struggling somewhat with the Suzuki through the high-speed Jim Clark Esses while the top four riders – Sykes, Haslam, Crutchlow and Byrne – had broken away from the rest of the field, although Camier was quickly closing the gap having broken away from Rutter.

With barely a second covering the top four, it didn't take long for the anticipated change for the lead to take place and on lap seven, Haslam saw his chance on the run to Tower and slipped up the inside into the lead of the race. Camier meanwhile was now with the top four and on lap eight, saw the chance to go up the inside of Byrne into the Hairpin and into fourth place.

Crutchlow's hopes of fighting back to the front took a hit when he ran wide at Tower on lap nine, which allowed both Camier and Byrne to move ahead of him and the Airwaves pair were soon fighting to find a way past Sykes, who had slipped back from Haslam as the Honda man chased his fourth straight win.

Seemingly able to carry more speed through the corners, Camier duly took second from Sykes on lap ten and with the half of the race still to run, set about chasing down his namesake at the front. It took little more than two laps for Camier to get onto terms with Haslam and on lap 13, he pulled a move almost exactly the same as the one Haslam had made to take the lead earlier in the race as he swept past at Tower. Behind them, Sykes was still third while Crutchlow had managed to get back ahead of Byrne into fourth – the points leader seemingly looking at points rather than going for the win with the title race in mind.

After briefly swapping places at the Complex on lap 15, Byrne made a move stick at Tower on lap 16 to go fourth and then closed onto the rear of his closest rival Sykes who was continuing to fight his Suzuki on every lap.

With just two laps remaining, Byrne made a move going into the Complex to take third place but then exiting the Hairpin he ran wide which allowed Sykes back into the position. However, a carbon copy move on the penultimate lap saw Byrne back into third going into the Complex and this time he made the move stick to take third.

The squabbling for third meant the top two had been able to break away and Camier duly took victory ahead of Haslam but there was to be drama behind as Byrne, Sykes and Crutchlow came through the Complex for the final time. Sykes dived for the inside into the Hairpin but slammed into the side of Byrne, forcing the Ducati wide and allowing him through into third. Crutchlow was also able to get ahead into fourth on the run to the line while Byrne dropped to fifth and was clearly less than impressed as he crossed the line visibly shaking his head.

Rutter crossed the line in a lonely sixth place after a quiet race while Michael Laverty took seventh having battled his way past Karl Harris in the closing stages. James Ellison had followed Simon Andrews for the first half of the race but got ahead of the Jentin Yamaha just after the half-way mark and was able to take ninth, with Andrews completing the top ten.

Gary Mason took the Cup honours in eleventh place, while the points scorers were completed by Atsu Watanabe, Scott Smart, Tristan Palmer and Stuart Easton.


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