Michael Laverty made the perfect start to the 2016 MCE British Superbike Championship as the Ulster rider clinched the spoils in race one at Silverstone on Sunday on the Tyco BMW.
The Toomebridge man picked up where he left off in 2015 when he won the final race of the season at Brands Hatch to give the Moneymore team plenty to celebrate at the Northamptonshire circuit, where his team-mate Christian Iddon made it two Tyco BMWs on the rostrum as the Stockport lad finished third.
Laverty made a strong start to work his way past pole man Leon Haslam and although it looked as though he had made a decisive break at the front, four-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne was on the move and powered through to mount a challenge on the Be Wiser Ducati, although Laverty kept his cool to close out a brilliant victory by half-a-second.
“It was harder at the end because I lost feeling in my hands a little bit because it was so cold and I couldn’t brake where I wanted to and the rear tyre went off,” said Laverty, who won the 2007 British Supersport title for TAS Racing.
“I was losing it in the middle of the corners and I wasn’t able to keep the same pace as I’d hoped for but it was enough to get the job done.
“After the start we had last year, to be on top of the box is awesome.”
New signing Iddon, who has impressed throughout pre-season and qualifying, felt he was too focused on managing the race, although the 31-year-old was delighted with his maiden rostrum finish.
“I tried to manage the race too much, I’m daft. I was thinking about conserving the tyre but boys were coming past me and I was too weak on the brakes,” said Iddon. “It’s pretty pathetic that I’ve taken this long to get on the box so I want to keep improving.”
JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Haslam and Peter Hickman both suffered technical problems while running in the leading group.
Luke Mossey finished fourth on the Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki while Honda Racing pair Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran were the top six.
Glenn Irwin, making his BSB race debut on the Be Wiser Ducati, finished in 14th place.
In race two, international road racing sensation Peter Hickman made amends for his DNF in the opener with a brilliant performance on the ZX-10R to deny Byrne, who was forced to settle for the runner-up spot again.
Laverty had taken the lead but dropped back with an apparent issue with his S1000RR to leave Hickman at the helm, who came under intense pressure from Byrne in the final laps.
The pair almost collided at Luffield as they fought for the lead but it was Hickman who came out on top by only 0.099s in a thrilling finish.
Iddon again finished third on the Tyco BMW despite incurring a 0.5 second time penalty for exceeding the track limits, while O’Halloran held off Haslam for fourth, with race one winner Laverty rounding out the top six.
Irwin was 13th ahead of fellow Carrick man Alastair Seeley (RAF BMW).
Michael Dunlop failed to finish either race on the Buildbase BMW.
Byrne holds a lead of five points over Laverty in the standings after round one, with Oulton Park next up from May 1-2.