Nico Mawhinney returned to winning ways in the Ulster Superbike Championship with victory in the opening race on Saturday at Kirkistown in County Down.
The Castledawson man, who took a short break away from the sport this season, got the better of Alistair Kirk (AKR McCurry BMW) in a thrilling battle, taking the win by only 0.053s on the line.
It was a confidence-boosting result for the Team Polaris Kawasaki rider, who was over five seconds clear of Randalstown’s Gerard Kinghan (IFS Yamaha) in third.
Aaron Armstrong (Hunky Dory Suzuki) was fourth ahead of championship leader Carl Phillips, who was riding a Suzuki at the weekend after spending all season on Jason McCaw’s Kawasaki. Barry Graham finished sixth on the BG Boats Kawasaki.
An equally hotly-contested second race saw Kirk get the better of Mawhinney in another all-the-way battle to the finish.
Kirk, who is second in the championship, prevailed by a tenth of a second over the revitalised Mawhinney, with Kinghan again taking third place on the 1000cc Yamaha, only 1.7 seconds behind.
The top six remained unchanged from race one, with Armstrong in fourth ahead of Phillips, who managed to fend off Graham to score some more vital championship points.
Phillips leads the title battle by 56 points from Kirk, with Armstrong in third, a further 42 points behind.
In the Supersport 600 class, Jason Lynn was out on his own once again on the Walter Bell Yamaha.
Lynn twice beat Christian Elkin (Bob Wylie Yamaha) by 13 and 12 seconds respectively and is now only 15 points behind Elkin in the title race after missing three consecutive rounds.
Lynn has won every race he has started in the championship this year, notching up 11 wins.
Kevin Lavery and Mark Abraham were double winners in the Supertwin and Production Twin classes respectively, while Jonny Campbell won both Supersport 300/Junior Cup/Young Guns races.
Gary Scott and Rossi Dobson shared the wins in the Moto3 races and Stephen McKeown won both Lightweight Supersport encounters.
Saturday’s meeting was promoted by the Belfast & District Club.