Flashes of brilliance shone through the dull, overcast skies at Cadwell Park as Team Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha showed the scintillating form that is proving the race might of the R1 Superbike.

With changeable conditions literally threatening to put a dampener on proceedings, it was the brave who made the running early on in the first big bike race of the day, with Steve Plater barging his way into a strong third place in the opening melee. Going into the first turn, Sean Emmett had also got off the line well to sixth place, just ahead of third team member Simon Crafar in seventh.

With the pace car being called out to attend to a fallen rider on the second lap, the riders were forced to hold position until the start of lap five, but, once the all clear was given to continue racing, Plater was straight back on the pace. Pushing as hard as he dare to try and find a way past second-place rider Steve Hislop, the local hero was the fastest man on the track at the time, looking every bit the winner in waiting.

But the good form wasn't to last and, on lap six, Plater lost control of the front of his bike, crashing out of the race at the downhill left-hand Mansfield Corner.

"I was pushing hard and lost the front," he admitted sheepishly, "There was a little rain at the beginning of the restart and I think that may have contributed something to my fall but, at the end of the day, I pushed and paid the price."

Thankfully, he was unhurt in the fall and able to join in the start of race two, while both Emmett and Crafar were able to maintain their earlier pace and put in a strong challenge to the other riders to secure fifth and sixth places respectively.

The dark clouds gathered above the Lincolnshire circuit for the start of the second race, and the good fortune that had kept the showers at bay for the 30,500-strong crowd looked ever more required at the beginning of the second leg.

From the lights, it was Plater who once again got a flyer off the line, scorching past his rivals to take the holeshot into the first turn, followed by a gaggle of V-twin motors chasing his screaming four-cylinder Yamaha.

Emmett and Crafar got baulked a little in the opening lap, settling into sixth and seventh places before starting to pick their way through the pack. Up front, meanwhile, Plater was coming under increasing pressure from the chasing attentions of Michael Rutter, who managed to barge his way past on the third lap.

Plater was forced back down the order to third on lap six but, getting his second wind, was beginning his strike back at the leaders when the heavens opened on lap eleven and the race, declared dry before the start, was stopped.

With all the riders allowed to change tyre compounds if necessary, the 15-minute delay before the restart was a tense affair, the rain sporadically falling and the track drying out quickly. And it was with the track virtually dry, apart from the final woodland section, that the second half of the race got underway over a remaining nine laps.

This time, Plater was again leading the pack as it crossed the line at the end of the first lap, but came in for a harsh pass from Rutter on lap two and then be run wide by another rider at the exit of Charlies later on the same lap. By the time he was able to compose his line and get the Yamaha back on course, Plater was down the order to fifth place, valiantly trying to regain his earlier position he set off after the leaders.

Emmett and Crafar had been working their way through the pack to be in sixth and seventh place after some earlier tussles with other riders, and across the line for the final time, it was Plater, only a fraction of a second ahead of Emmett, with Crafar unfortunately dropping the R1 at the tricky final Barn Corner and leaving himself unable to finish the race.

"I feel a little down because I really wanted to win here in front of this massive crowd for Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha," Plater said, "I felt really good in the first race and was looking to get past Hislop when the front tucked and I fell. There was nothing I could do and that was it. In race two, I was run a little wide in a turn and recovering robbed me of time which left me chasing the leaders.

"Leading the race twice really showed how much we have come along with the Yamaha R1. We are back in the race next weekend at Oulton Park, where we can hopefully maintain the momentum."

"I knew I would have a bit of a tough time here this weekend because I am still very new to this bike," Emmett added, "The Yamaha works really well here, but I just have not quite got it turning right for me today and I paid the price out there. I was working really hard and rode the absolute best I could. Now I have Cadwell behind me I can look forward to Oulton Park next weekend where I feel I'll be able to let the R1 run at the corners better."

 

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