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Shane Byrne has won his second MCE British Superbike Championship race of the season at Knockhill after prevailing over key rivals Tommy Hill and Michael Laverty.

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider started from the second row in fourth place - following a decision to split the grid to three bikes per row -, but quickly shuffled his way to second through the opening turns behind Laverty, who in turn got the jump on pole sitter Hill off the line.

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Shadowing the Samsung Honda for three laps, Byrne struck to the front on lap four with a pass into turn one, a move that was replicated a lap later by Hill.

With the top five in the overall standings - Byrne, Hill, Laverty, Josh Brookes and Ian Lowry - making the break to form a five-strong lead pack, the stage was seemingly set for a showdown.

As it happens, Byrne was able to keep Hill at arm's length for the race's entirety and though he was never able put a significant gap between himself and Swan Yamaha rider, he was never realistically challenged either.

Indeed, with Byrne committing no noticeable errors, he subsequently completed a second victory of the season, ahead of Hill and Laverty, who also maintained lead pace but wasn't quite able to get higher than third.

Erstwhile series leader Brookes clung on to the top three initially, but his pace dropped in the closing stages, the Tyco Suzuki rider fortunate that his biggest threat of Lowry, who was running directly behind him, would suffer a costly crash on lap 14 at Scotsman.

As such, Tommy Bridewell assumed fifth place, the Supersonic BMW rider recovering from a poor start that left him outside the top ten initially to make gains as far as snatching fifth from Noriyuki Haga with seven laps remaining.

Haga held on for sixth, just keeping Alastair Seeley at bay, while Graeme Gowland, Alex Lowes and Michael Rutter crossed the line in tandem to complete the top ten.

James Westmoreland finished 11th, but only after losing time with an off at the final corner hairpin, the WFR Honda rider clawing back ground to beat Jon Kirkham, Tristan Palmer, Luke Quigley and Patric Muff.

Elsewhere, Chris Walker's heroic efforts came to an unsatisfactory end on lap nine when his Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki developed technical issues, while Peter Hickman's first race for Buildbase BMW would also end prematurely, albeit in the gravel.

In the overall standings, Hill has moved ahead of Brookes, while Byrne has closed up the gap to the top two in third place and Laverty has moved clear of Lowry in fourth.

The grid for race two will see Hill on pole position once again, ahead of Byrne and Laverty, while Lowry, Westmoreland and Haga make up row two. Brookes, meanwhile, paid for his laboured pace by only securing a time good enough for ninth.