by Louise Cain
The scorching hot Irish weather brought the race fans out in their droves, and they weren't to be disappointed. Scott Smart pipped John Reynolds to the post in a manic last corner manoeuvre, taking the race win by 0.002 of a second, and his first ever British Superbike win.
With Glen Richards completing the podium, it was a happy day for the ecstatic Kawasaki team. Unfortunately for pole sitter Michael Rutter, his race was to end on lap 14 when he low sided at MG corner.
The 18 lap epic got off to an exciting start with Smart leaning on a hard charging Rutter through the first corner. Rutter came out in front and made a break for the lead, followed closely by Smart, Reynolds, Richards and Hill. Lap two saw Reynolds and Smart ducking and diving under one and other with Smart coming out in second place. Rutter by this stage had stretched his lead to 2.25 secs.
Lap 5 saw Mason retire with a clutch problem and Easton soon followed suit. The battle for third then kicked in with the Kawasaki's ganging up on Reynold's Suzuki, with Richards taking third place from Reynolds. Rutter sent the lap record tumbling, but Reynolds responded by taking it back. It now stands at 1min 40.892secs.
Reynolds, not to be out done by the Kawasakis, took third place back off Richards and set his sights firmly on Smart. Yamaha were to face further disappointment when Tommy Hill retired on lap 9 also with a clutch problem.
Further down the field Kagayama-san was battling his way to forth place. When on the grid waiting for the race to start, Yuki and his crew all put on Japanese head bands which was to help Yuki in the race!
Meanwhile back at the sharp end, Reynolds tackled Smart and passed him round the outside in a very brave move to steal second position from him. Rutter's lead now came under attack as Smart and Reynolds closed on him, the gap was down to 1.087 when incredibly Rutter crashed out of the number one spot. Luckily, he was able to walk away from the crash.
With a clear road ahead Reynolds got his head down, as Smart snapped at his heels. The Kawasaki was starting to look a little squirrelly, when on the final corner Smart broke free and made a superb move on Reynolds to take a well deserved and hard fought win.
The tight, twisty Mondello circuit provided a perfect setting for one of the most incredible races of the season so far. Hold onto your seats for an equally exciting race two...
Race one top ten
1. Scott Smart
2. John Reynolds
3. Glen Richards
4. Yukio Kagayama
5. Dean Thomas
6. Sean Emmett
7. James Buckingham
* Quay Garage Suzuki
8. Craig Coxhell
9. James Haydon
10. Kieran Clarke
Colin Appleyard Yamaha
* Denotes cup contender