Renegade Ducati riders Michael Rutter and Shane Byrne both took thrilling victories in round nine of the Motor Cycle News British Superbike Championship at Thruxton today.
Series leader Steve Hislop managed to leave the Hampshire circuit with an increased lead over Sean Emmett in the title chase after claiming a pair of second places.
Rutter, who shattered the outright lap record to claim his second consecutive Superpole start, made the perfect getaway to race one and was running second to reigning Champion John Reynolds when light rain stopped the race on the fifth lap.
Hislop, who started from the third row made his way to fifth place and on the re-start, was leading on the road and on aggregate time. However Sean Emmett challenged the MonsterMob rider as he made his debut aboard the Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha.
There were inches between them in the final stages, but in the two part race it was Rutter who lay in second on the road to Hislop, but went on to take the victory. This was on the basis of an aggregate time of 0.216 seconds from the Scot, with third place going to Emmett.
Rutter made the running in the second race, but was sidelined at half distance by machine problems, Reynolds suffered a similar fate having finished fourth in the opener. Once again Hislop looked to be taking charge and heading for a sixth victory of the season. However Byrne was also eyeing victory and ran close behind the Flying Scot for the final half dozen laps.
Hislop had the edge as he went into the final chicane but Byrne was to have the final say. The Sittingbourne-based rider charged into the lead as they emerged from the tight right-left and won the dash to the line by mere 0.043 seconds.
A delighted Byrne commented: ''Steve was a bit too hot going in and I thought this is just the place to nail him - I did, and took the victory,''
While a stunned Hislop commented ''I just don't believe it - I had done all of the hard work and then he gets me on the line, but overall I am quite happy with my day's work after a tough weekend.''
Hislop extended his lead by eight points, 320-301 ahead of Emmett who took third place in each of the races.