Michael Rutter and James Ellison took the victories in a rain-lashed penultimate round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Silverstone that left the title fight on a knife edge going into the Showdown finale at Oulton Park next month.
Tommy Hill emerged from a difficult weekend at the Northamptonshire Grand Prix circuit retaining the advantage in the title stakes, though Australia’s Josh Brookes, riding consistently in the difficult conditions to take second and third places, cut his lead by five points to 589-578.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, eager to add a third British title to his pedigree, moved within four points of Brookes as the Title Fighters showed their determined qualities.
Brookes, riding the HM Plant Honda, made the early running in the opener, ahead of Michael Laverty on the Relentless Suzuki with Kiyonari third from Rutter but light rain fell with the leaders on their fifth lap, bringing out the red flags.
The re-start, over 10 laps, saw Laverty make a superb start to be running ahead of Brookes, Rutter, Kiyonari and Worx Crescent Suzuki rider Hill. Brookes nosed ahead on the fourth lap, but Laverty quickly hit back in fierce duel but it was Rutter, revelling in the wet, who took both of them on the eighth lap and then pulled out a lead of over a second as he took his second victory of the campaign.
“That couldn’t be better for me, making up for the tumble at Croft, though it was very difficult out there as the conditions were changing by the lap – it was horrible really, but I will take it,” said Rutter though his hopes of completing the daily double were soon dashed in the second race.
Ellison had made a storming start, running well clear of the tangle at Copse on the opening lap in which Laverty, Chris Burns and Loris Baz tumbled. The Swan Honda rider was strong and confident despite the ravages of the weather as he ran clear of Kiyonari with Rutter riding hard, only to slide out of third place at Aintree on the fourth lap.
Hill, who had fought back from a scary moment at the start when his bike swerved out of line, was carving through the pack from ninth on the opening lap. Ahead of him, Brookes took third from Gary Mason, while Hill moved ahead of first Dan Linfoot and then Alastair Seeley to be running in fifth place.
Ellison had pulled out a lead of over five seconds as he took his first victory in five months, since his opening round success at Brands Hatch, showing what might have been but for the broken leg sustained in a crash during practice for the second round.
“That was unbelievable, there were so many emotions flashing through my mind as I crossed the line and I got a bit excited,” explained Ellison.
Kiyonari took second place from Brookes, Seeley, Hill and Linfoot.
“I had luck on my side today and it has put me back up there in the championship now. As they say the pressure is on!” Brookes beamed.
Chris Burns took his Splitlath Aprilia to Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class victory in the opening race, finishing ahead of his team-mate Hudson Kennaugh but next time out it was Gary Johnson riding the AIM Suzuki who took the victory ahead of Pauli Pekkanen on the 777RR Motorsport Suzuki.
Steve Brogan retains the lead in the title standings, though after a day of a sixth place, and then a tumble from his Jentin BMW that has been cut to just eight points by Kennaugh.
In Supersport, Australia’s Jason O’Halloran raced to his maiden BSB podium with third behind new champion Sam Lowes and James Westmoreland. South Australia’s Glen Richards was fifth.
“Finally the podium I’ve been looking for all season,” O’Halloran said. “It’s been a hard weekend with a few ups and downs but the end result was ideal! I’m just chuffed to bits for all the team and myself, but the team have worked so hard since I joined them mid season at Mallory Park and we’ve been working for this ever since.”
The final round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship will take place at Oulton Park on 8-10 October and will be the Showdown decider.