30 May 2011
Laverty splashes to first win of 2011
Michael Laverty takes his first win of the 2011 British Superbike season, as Michael Rutter and Shane Byrne show their experience in second and third.
Michael Laverty has hauled himself back into title contention with a third career British Superbike Championship victory at Thruxton, his first for Swan Yamaha.
The Northern Irishman was peerless in the tricky weather conditions around the high-speed Hampshire circuit, Laverty climbing his way up the order from seventh on the grid to snatch a lead he wouldn't lose at the mid-way point in the race.
A measure of the quality in BSB this year, not a single rider crashed during the 15 lap race, which was delayed when the heaven's opened minutes before the start of the race. With a wet race being declared, a lottery on tyre choices would see the majority of the field apply full wet rubber, while Tommy Hill, James Westmoreland and Loris Baz would risk it on intermediate tyres.
Off the start, maiden pole sitter Alex Lowes bogged down, allowing John Hopkins and then Michael Rutter into the lead, though it was a charging Peter Hickman that would complete the opening lap out front after an excellent move at Club.
Hickman held the position until lap four when Hopkins swept through at Club, only for the plucky Tyco Honda rider to snatch the position back on lap five.
Lowes, meanwhile, was working his way back into contention, passing Hopkins for second on lap six, before moving into the lead ahead of Hickman just a few corners later.
Simultaneously, Laverty was now up to third place at the expense of Hopkins, the American enduring something of a mid-race lull at this stage. Third became second on lap seven when Laverty passed Hickman, the Swan Yamaha rider going on to pass Lowes for the lead at the start of lap eight as he displayed superior levels of grip through turn one.
Indeed, having fought his way to the front, Lowes began to slip down the order rather swiftly, dropping to seventh by the end of the tenth lap.
With Laverty seemingly comfortable out front, the battle for second, occupied by Hickman with five laps remaining, attracted much of the attention, though he was now under pressure from fellow privateer Honda rider Dan Linfoot, Rutter, Hopkins and, remarkably, Shane Byrne, the former champion up into the top five having started last following his qualifying crash.
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