Steve Plater stormed onto the first race podium at Thruxton, claiming second place in the closest encounter seen so far in this year's British Superbike Championship.

For twenty laps, seven riders battled it out at the front of the race, with the lead changing at virtually every corner. After working his way steadily through the pack, Plater waited until the final turn before making his move on the leading trio. Holding a tight line at the entry, the 31-year old rider dived underneath James Haydon, and then out-dragged Sean Emmett to the line, to take second place behind race winner Steve Hislop.

"What an awesome race," a jubilant Plater said afterwards, "To finish on the podium for the second time in as many meetings is fantastic - especially after such a thrilling battle. I didn't get a brilliant start from pole, but I knew that, as long as I didn't panic, I'd be able to work my way up to the leading group. After sixteen laps of frantic action, with everyone banging fairings at every turn, it all came down to the last corner. I backed off a bit approaching the chicane and then tried to get good drive through the turn. It turned out to be a good plan, as I was able to out-drag Sean Emmett to the line."

Michael Rutter got a flying start from fourth place on the grid, leading the field through the opening lap on his factory Kawasaki ZX-7RR. After battling with the leaders throughout the race, a collision in the closing stages saw the 27-year old Team Kawasaki rider drop back slightly from the leading group.

"I think I've got more blue and red paint on the fairing than I have green at the moment, the racing was that close," he smiled, "I got a brilliant start to lead round the first lap, but it wasn't long before I was involved in a seven-way battle at the front. I had a big coming together with Sean Emmett during the latter stages of the race, but it was a big moment on the last lap that cost me any chance of a podium. I ran wide at the complex and had no choice but to take to the grass. Unfortunately, the grass is really long out at that part of the circuit and, if it hadn't been for the noise from the other bikes, I'd have struggled to find the track again! Riding into knee high grass at 80mph isn't something I want to experience again in a hurry."

Rutter recovered quickly from his scare, returned to the circuit and rescued valuable championship points with a seventh place finish.

"It's been a fantastic weekend so far," said Dave Copley, chairman of Imperial Flight Centres, one of Team Kawasaki's main sponsors, "Every time I looked at a timing monitor yesterday, it was either Steve or Michael's name at the top, so Steve's podium finish didn't come as a big surprise this afternoon"



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