Defending Champion John Reynolds took his first victory of the season, heading off the fierce challenge of Steve Plater in the first of two dramatic races in the sixth round of the MCN British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch today. The Nottingham rider looked like he was going to take a winning double but was beaten back to fourth place in a final lap shoot-out.

Reynolds has had a tough time this season with the developing Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000, but all the hard work paid off today. The GSX-R1000 was on blistering form from the off and took a first lap lead as his former team-mate Sean Emmett slowed, then pulled out with a 50 pence oil seal blowing.

Reynolds was having nothing easy as Michael Rutter (Renegade Ducati) and Steve Plater (Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha) challenged frantically. Plater was determined to impress his team's sponsor, Sir Richard Branson who turned out to support his team. Plater twice moved ahead and then held the advantage for much of the second half of the race, before Reynolds took him twice on the final lap to grab the victory by 0.218 seconds.

"That was absolutely brilliant - it has been a long season, with the team working really hard - this result is a massive leap forwards. Steve took me on the final lap at Dingle Dell, but then ran a bit wide, and I got him back. I always knew the bike was a winner, it was just a matter of doing it," said Reynolds.

In the second race of the day IFC Ducati rider Sean Emmett was determined to avenge his earlier disappointment. He set the pace from the start running ahead of his title rival Steve Hislop, who had been a distant twelfth in the opener, as he struggled with tyres and Reynolds a close third.

The pack was further bunched together as the safety car was deployed as the marshals dealt with John Crawford's heavy crash. The action was soon resumed and Emmett just held the advantage. On the final lap, Reynolds again moved ahead, only to drop back to fourth as he run off line at Westfield. Emmett took his third victory, by 0.032 seconds from the rider he trails by 16 points in the title stakes, Hislop, with Rutter again third.

 

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