Honda Racing's Steve Plater was on the podium in yesterday's first British Superbike race at Rockingham circuit with a fantastic ride for third place.

Yukio Kagayama made history by becoming the first Japanese rider to win in British Superbikes, while championship favourite Shane Byrne was second.

Starting from fifth on the grid for the 22-lap race, Plater made a good start and was challenging for fourth place before Yukio Kagayama slipped past on lap two. Tagging onto the back of the leading group of five riders, the 30-year-old Lincolnshire rider proceeded to set the early race pace and passed Michael Rutter on lap eight to move back into fifth.

Plater's team mate Mark Heckles had worked his way up to tenth place by half race distance but the Liverpudlian rider crashed on lap 12 when he lost the front end of his Honda VTR 1000 SP-2. It was then down to Plater, who was continuing his progression through the pack, passing both John Reynolds and Glen Richards on the brakes to move into a podium position.

The Honda Racing hero then began to put pressure on championship leader Shane Byrne and challenge for second place. However, Byrne had a clear run through the backmarkers whereas Plater lost valuable time and had to chase hard on the VTR1000 SP-2 to make up lost ground. By the final lap it became apparent that Plater was also suffering from tyre problems, so he backed off to safeguard his podium slot.

"That was a fantastic race," Plater said afterwards. "I had a steady start and took it easy for the opening laps because I knew there would be a lot of argy bargy and I didn't want to use my tyres up. It was a difficult passage through the backmarkers because they were involved in their own race and I'm disappointed I couldn't get past Shaky but he just wasn't making any mistakes, so fair play to him. I've got a great set-up, so I won't be changing anything on the bike for race two."

 

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