The heroes of the crowd. The daredevils on the track.

That's how the pairing of Steve Plater and Sean Emmett were summed up following a fantastic brace of races that saw a stunning victory and second place in race one with a great second and third in race two.

With overcast skies and cool temperatures casting their gloom over the Midlands circuit of Mallory Park it was left to the star riders to provide the excitement for the 20,000 plus crowd.

Team Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha and Team Appleyard Racing didn't disappoint with their awesome Yamaha R1 Superbikes.

From the start of the first race it was Emmett who made the early showing, getting off the line and into the first turn in sixth place while Plater got a flyer off the grid - romping straight up from ninth place (the third row) to be in seventh at the start.

Simon Crafar didn't get off the line so cleanly however, finding himself bogged down in traffic he was 11th into turn one.

Come lap six and both Emmett and Plater were making their collective move, barging past the tail end of the leading group to take fourth and fifth place and with a gap of one second to make up to the leaders, the hunt was on. Crafar too was making his way through the pack, getting past slower traffic to take over ninth place.

For the next six laps Emmett and Plater pegged down the leading group, inch-perfect into the demanding Hairpin and Bus-Stop bends the duo were getting ready to make their moves - on lap 13 the pace became even hotter with Emmett grabbing third spot going into the Hairpin 180 degree turn, only for Plater to take over the place mid-corner - and Emmett reclaiming third by the end of the same bend!

A lap later and Emmett was up to second, barging past John Reynolds at the Hairpin, the Yamaha's kerb-hugging line through the turn unable to be beaten. Plater followed his team-mate a lap later, the red and black bikes holding second and third at half race distance.

Lap 16 and the inevitable happened, Emmett set-up a perfect pass at the Hairpin and took the lead from Shane Byrne - leading the race for the first time Emmett got his head down and pinned an amazing string of laps, Plater muscled his way through to second place on lap 18 leaving the pair a clear run between them to the flag.

For the next handful of laps Plater stalked Emmett, the pair setting a scorching set of laps that left the rest of the field trailing in their wake.

By lap 27 it was Plater's turn to take over, passing Emmett for the lead at the Hairpin and holding on to the advantage to the flag.

After the race a jubilant Plater said: "What a great race! I was thinking to myself right the way through that the win was on and following our last race at the last round where we also won I can't begin to say just how great it feels to be on top of the podium again."

"I knew the race would come down to a fight between a few of us for a win and I was sure that Sean would be right up there. Throughout qualifying we were both able to put in some fast times on race rubber and that's what counts."

"Some of the bikes out on track can go really fast for a single lap in Superpole but for us we would much rather have a fast race setting. The only lap that you need to be the fastest on is the last one to the flag and we showed that here in this race."

"The team and I have really been able to get working with the Yamaha better. The lads have put in so much work and it is being proved now. I have learnt that I need to be a lot more precise with my settings on the bike - because we are there as race winners now we can't get settings somewhere in the ball-park and race, we have to get the bike right. When we do we can go out there and win."

Emmett added: "I felt really good out there. I knew Steve would be right with me and to be honest when he came past I was able to stay with him but couldn't get past. My injuries to my hands from the last round at Oulton a fortnight ago weren't too bad in that race but from about half race distance my left hand went numb. It was a really strange feeling because it wasn't uncomfortable but I knew I couldn't muscle the bike around as much as I wanted."

Crafar noted: "I got really held up behind some other riders early on. Once I'd made my way past them I could get down to some really good lap times but by then the leaders had made a break and I was lapping on my own. Frustrating because I didn't want to be too aggressive and risk a fall early on."

Race two was an equally impressive outing. From the start it was Emmett who managed to get into the turn in fifth place, just two places ahead of Plater who found himself baulked by a slower rider. Whilst the start of the race saw the usual melee of fairing-bashing action, things didn't slow up the Virgin Mobile Aiwa machines, Emmett quickly progressing up the order to fourth by the second lap.

Lap 5 and Emmett made another audacious move going into the 120mph Lakeside Esses, slotting himself into third and closing the gap on second place just as quickly.

Five laps later and Emmett barged title rival Steve Hislop out of the way at the Hairpin bend for second, Plater managing to find a way past his targets in front to secure fifth.

Two laps later and Plater was harassing fourth place rider Shane Byrne like a man possessed, eager to get past and chase down Emmett.

Lap 15 and Plater was through to fourth, shoving past Byrne at the Hairpin, two laps later Plater had got third in the bag, riding around the outside of Hislop at the Hairpin corner - an amazing move that had the crowd roaring its approval.

Plater was hungry for another win and upped the pace further, getting past Emmett with another fantastic drive of power down the tricky Devil's Elbow final bend on lap 19 - with 11 laps to go the Virgin Mobile Aiwa backed bikes promised another battle royal for the final podium positions.

Lap 20 and Emmett had found his way back to second, holding station for five more laps the final stages of the race between he and Plater looked to be getting too close to call, and judging by the cheers and focus of the crowd little else mattered.

Plater grabbed second back on lap 25 at the Hairpin, only for Emmett to regain the place yet again at Lakeside Esses - only for Steve to get the advantage again at the Bus Stop chicane.

Lap 27 and Emmett snatched second back at Lakeside once more. With three laps to go things were getting frantic. The pair held position all the way to the flag, Plater pushing Sean all the way to the chequered linen for the pair to be split by just 0.6 of a second. Less than the length of a bike at 120mph.

The excellent performance by Emmett result means that he is now just 37 points behind Hislop in the title chase - the closest challenger for the crown, and with 25 points given for a win and two races held at the event it's all to play for going into the final round at Donington Park on September 29.

Speaking after the race a relaxed Emmett said: "What a good race! It makes the title chase real interesting for the final round of the series now!

"The bike was excellent out there and both Steve and I were able to really get on with the job of racing. We burnt too much time at the start of the race having to get through traffic to be in for the win but I'll take another podium finish here."

Plater added: "I was trying right until the end. I wanted the second and Sean had to work hard to keep me behind him but that's what the racing is all about. We both had a great time out there and judging from the expressions on the crowd's faces it must have looked wild from the side of the track. Felt great to be a part of!"

Simon Crafar struggled to match his pace from the earlier race, he noted: "I just wasn't fast enough out there in race two. I have been finding it tough to get to grips with this track but I was missing a bit of pace in that race. I can honestly say that I am real happy to have this meeting behind me - now we go on to Donington Park which is a track I know the Yamahas will be real strong at."

 

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