John Hopkins has taken a third MCE British Superbike Championship 'Showdown' victory from three races with a composed performance at Silverstone.
The American, who moved to the head of the BSB standings with a double win last time out at Donington Park, showed fell ill-effects from the finger injury that had curtailed his involvement in practice to snatch the lead on lap nine and not look back.
A relentless race in which the top five riders in the title showdown proved their mettle by lapping in close contention from start-to-finish, pole sitter Michael Laverty led through the opening stages, ahead of Hopkins, Tommy Hill, Shane Byrne – getting an excellent start from 13th on the grid – and Josh Brookes.
From here, Brookes moved himself past Byrne for fourth on lap four and latched himself onto the back of Hill, who in turn was keeping Hopking and Laverty honest ahead of him.
However, it was Hopkins that would make the decisive break when, after getting a good run down the Hangar Straight, he would slip up the inside of Laverty's Yamaha into Stowe.
Though the pass didn't prompt Hopkins to gap his rivals behind him, he remained in control from this point, resisting the particularly determined advances of Laverty on the final lap to claim another potentially crucial victory.
With Hill settling for third, himself fending off Brookes to the chequered flag, it means Hopkins has eked his advantage out to 12 points with three races remaining. Byrne, who finished just off the lead pack in fifth, remains third overall, but is now 39 points off Hopkins and two points up on Laverty. Brookes is 50 points behind Hopkins.
A massive gap of 23 seconds split fifth down to sixth, with Graeme Gowland claiming a remarkable sixth place finish on the EVO-specification WFR Honda. Finishing ahead of several better fancied rivals, he headed up a group of Alex Lowes – scoring his best finish for Motorpoint Yamaha -, Michael Rutter, Martin Jessopp and Tommy Bridewell.
Behind them, Ian Lowry, James Westmoreland, Glen Richards, Gary Mason and Dan Linfoot finished completed the points' standings.
Elsewhere, Jon Kirkham's race was spoiled by a ride-through penalty for jumping the start, while Ryuichi Kiyonari was also forced to take a trip through the pit lane after failing to line up in the correct grid position.
Ahead of race two, Brookes will start from pole position, with Hopkins, Laverty and Kirkham – who pitted for a new set of tyres – joining him on the front row.