The fourth round of the Bennett's British Superbikes got underway in spectacular fashion with Michael Rutter on the HM Plant Honda romping home ahead of a group left scrapping over the minor podium positions.
Rutter enjoyed a massive lead of 5.373secs, with Gregorio Lavilla's Airwaves Ducati in second, and third place going to former Supersport champion Karl Harris, who fended off Leon Haslam to the line.
Haslam had been due to start from the front row of the grid but, on the warm-up lap, he had a coming together with Harris that broke a brake lever. Haslam had to return to the pits and grab his number two bike, before starting after the rest of the field had taken the green light. Despite the disadvantage, Haslam managed to pick his way through the pack to join the battle for third place with Harris and the two Hawk Kawasakis.
On the final lap, the son of 'Rocket Ron' was close enough to make a move on Harris but, unfortunately, they touched for a second time, and both riders were lucky to stay on board - and in position - as Harris careered across the grass at the chicane.
The Hawk Kawasakis had initially led the race, but had to settle for fifth and sixth places - Glen Richards ahead of team-mate Dean Thomas - once they had succumbed to, first, Rutter and then, Lavilla. WSBK regular Chris Vermeulen, enjoying a weekend off from Winston Ten Kate Honda duties, took time out to wish his fellow Aussie good luck before the race, but it was obviously not enough.
Gary Mason was the highest placed of the Stobart Hondas, coming home in seventh place, ahead of the two Rizla Suzukis. James Haydon, deputising for John Reynolds this weekend, made a bad start and had to battle from 20th before eventually making up enough ground to be classified in eighth place - ahead of team-mate Scott Smart.
Rounding out the top ten was Kieran Clarke on the Hydrex Honda, while young Irish rider Jonathan Rea put in a fine performance to bring his Red Bull Honda home in twelfth place.
Leading Superbike Cup runner James Buckingham was a feature in the chasing pack early on, but his challenge faded as the race progressed, eventually leaving the Quay Garage Suzuki in 16th spot, three ahead of nearest rival Steve Brogan.
Sean Emmett retired the 'big bang' Virgin Yamaha on lap nine, his team citing set-up as has reason for his withdrawal. Emmett joined Julien da Costa, John McGuiness and Dean Ellison on the sidelines.