Northern Ireland’s Michael Laverty claimed his maiden rostrum finish for the Tyco BMW team as the MCE British Superbike Showdown commenced at Assen.
Laverty, who qualified in fourth place, managed to hold off reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne on the PBM Kawasaki to seal the last place on the rostrum in race one at the legendary circuit in the Netherlands, where Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes made the perfect start with a brilliant double to increase his title advantage.
A delay ensued before race two due to rain but tricky conditions forced Laverty to err on the side of caution as he finished in ninth place.
His team-mate, Tommy Bridewell, crashed out of the race after finishing eighth in the opener.
Laverty, who has moved into fourth place in the standings after the opening round of the Showdown, said: “I was just too cautious in that second race but the conditions were horrible. When I started to get going I got a false neutral and ran across the gravel and had to fight my way back up again.
“It’s not ideal but we will take the positives, especially the race one podium. In those race one conditions the Tyco BMW felt superb and with the changes we’ve made I now have a BMW Motorrad S1000RR that I feel comfortable racing,” he added.
“The first part was a good start to the Showdown and although I’m a bit disappointed with race two, I can go to Silverstone in the confidence that we have found the set-up we need to be competitive, even though we can still make improvements from here.”
Brookes controlled race one to win by more than six seconds from James Ellison on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki, with Laverty a further two seconds in arrears after hitting back to bag third when Byrne attempted a pass at the final chicane, running wide while the BMW rider held his line to retake the position.
Australian star Brookes was made to work harder for victory in the second race by Ellison, completing a double with 0.6 seconds in hand as Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey finished third.
Buildbase BMW’s Richard Cooper took fourth ahead of Byrne, who lost more ground in his bid to retain the BSB title.
Dublin’s Jack Kennedy, who finished 13th in race one on the WD40 Kawasaki, was an excellent seventh in race two on the ZX-10R.
Brookes, who now leads Byrne by 28 points ahead of the final two rounds at Silverstone (October 4) and Brands Hatch (October 18), said: “I was coming into this event with some confidence and having ridden here earlier in the year on the different-spec bike meant I had a good idea of where we could be.
“What I thought was already a fairly well prepared bike and one I was confident with – the team chopped and changed it a bit and we found some extra tenths so the team really delivered it for me. “To go out and do a 1m 35.9 is even a surprise to me.
“Sure I had to ride the bike, hold the handlebars and push the tyres, but the team have stepped up a level this weekend and it is perfect timing.”
Meanwhile, Gearlink Kawasaki’s Glenn Irwin sealed third place in the Motorpoint British Supersport Feature race.
Irwin made a mistake while holding a podium place in the Sprint race on Saturday on the last lap but returned to the track to finish fifth and made amends to take third behind championship leader Luke Stapleford and Jake Dixon on Sunday in race two.
Marshall Neill finished 11th and 10th overall in the two races, winning the Evo class on Sunday on the InCompetition Yamaha.
David Allingham finished 13th and 16th overall and celebrated an excellent third in the Evo category behind Neill in Saturday’s Sprint race.
Keith Farmer was 25th after a DNF on Saturday on the Tsingtao MV Agusta.