Hawk Kawasaki's judgement to replace injured Glen Richards with TT-winner John McGuinness proved to be a good decision when the Lancastrian stormed to his maiden BSB podium and the Man of the Meeting award at a wet Brands Hatch yesterday.

Dark clouds threatened to dampen proceedings all weekend, but it wasn't until minutes before the first British Superbike race that the heavens opened. Both Scott Smart and McGuinness gained many places in the early laps of the wet race, jumping from twelfth and ninth on the grid to fifth and sixth by lap three respectively.

Unfortunately Smarty was forced out of the running with electrical problems on lap nine, elevating his team-mate to fifth behind race leader Reynolds, Emmett, Mason and Rutter. After a four lap mid-distance stint behind the safety car, due to a crash at Paddock Hill, McGuinness took fourth when Yamaha's Gary Mason left the track at Druids trying to outbrake Emmett for second position.

The Hawk rider was right with the leaders on the drying track and was able to overtake Rutter on the brakes at Surtees two laps from the end before chasing after Sean Emmett, who looked to be in a safe second place. On the final lap McGuninness looked to be challenging Emmett before electing to bring his Hawk ZX-10R home in a superb third place for his first ever BSB podium.

"I was expecting a reasonably good result in the wet because I don't mind it, but to be on podium is unbelievable," said John of his first race on the Hawk machine. "I could have got past Sean Emmett on the last lap, and in any other situation I would have had a go, but it was my first time on the bike, I was in a podium situation and I thought 'let's just bring her home'. The bike worked brilliantly in the wet, it was superb, and I was getting better drive than a lot of the guys. I got away really well, but Yukio was in front of me sliding all over the place and nearly took half the field out. That held me up a bit but it was a long race and I was just picking them off one by one and I quite enjoyed scalping a few of those factory boys."

The 29 year-old backed-up his surprising first race aboard the Kawasaki with a solid sixth place in the second, in equally treacherous conditions, earning him Niall Mackenzie's Man of the Meeting award.

"I tried to keep my head and pick a few off, but I got held up by Tommy Hill for a long time," John said. "Once I got past him I seemed to pull away. My results show that I'm bike fit, back on the scene and this is where I want to be - in BSB, and this is a great start to it."

Scott Smart made amends for his first race disappointment, in which an electrical problem forced him to retire, with a gritty fifth place in the second outing. The former 250 champion fought his way through to second behind Emmett in the opening laps, but was unable to sustain the pace when his rear tyre started to wear heavily on the drying track.

"I think I could have got past James Haydon in the closing stages, but at the end of the day I would have struggled to do it," said Smarty. "I planned to try in the last couple of laps, but we got split up by a back marker. I was catching him but he was having as many out of the seat moments as me. My tyre's were gone and it was spinning up everywhere. I got up into second in the early laps and then James and a few others came by because I didn't have the ultimate pace, but the good thing is that we weren't a million miles away.

"I'm gutted I had to retire from the first race because I got a great start and was in fifth by the third corner," he continued. "My bike kept cutting out, which isn't what you want when you've got 180bhp in the wet. I felt comfortable out there too and I'm sure I could have finished fourth or on the podium if the bike had been ok. I just had no choice but to pull in and see if we could fix it."

After a tough qualifying Hawk Kawasaki Team Principal Stuart Hicken was delighted to see one of his machines on the podium again, especially in the hands of rookie McGuinness.

"The thing I'm really pleased about is that we've never raced the bikes in the wet and we've proved that the development we've done with the engine has made the bike really easy to ride," he said. "John has ridden 10 times better than I thought he would after coming back from the island, which is real hard work, plus he's riding against guys who have been hard at it all season. He rode tremendously well and I'm over the moon with the way he's ridden. I couldn't have asked for a better stand-in for Glen. Scotty was really unfortunate in the first race, but you can't do much when electrics go wrong because they were in excellent condition before the race. He had a great second race, where he got up to second and battled hard all the way through. It bodes so well for the future of the bike and as we keep developing it WILL get better, that's for sure."