British Superbikes: Laverty rides to a super victory
Salute Michael Laverty! The Toomebridge rider yesterday clinched his first ever British motorcycling title when he won the Supersport class at Donington.
Having led throughout the season, Laverty was a hot favourite to grab the title yesterday but he had a few anxious moments before he could step onto the podium and celebrate.
The first race, which Laverty led for 10 laps, was red flagged and the riders were told they had to start again, only this time to race over eight laps.
The reason for the decision was that a bike had blown up on the circuit and had made the course unraceable.
"I could have done without that," said Laverty. "I was in the lead and there was no guarantee that I would win the second race. In fact anything might have happened."
As it turned out, Laverty gave his supporters no cause for concern in the re-run, leading from start to finish to score by half a second from his team-mate, Moira's Ian Lowry.
Billy McConnell was third and John McGuinness fourth.
Dennis Hobbs, who had represented the only title threat to Laverty, fell off on the third lap.
Afterwards Laverty said: "I had decided to run my own race, come what may. Everything went as planned and I'm especially happy for my TAS Suzuki team.
"Next year, I'll be moving up to the Superbike class. That is the plan of the team owners and hopefully I will be with them."
It was not a happy day for Ulster's Jonathan Rea. He had hoped to make up ground from second place in the Superbike championship but it all fell apart when, after finishing fifth in the first race, he was down to seventh in the second.
This means that with one round to go, his Honda team-mate and current champion, Japanese rider Riyouchi Kiyonari, is a hot favourite to grab the title with his 37 points lead over Rea.
Leon Haslam won both races with Tom Sykes second on both occasions. In the first race, Shane Byrne was third with Gregorio Lavilla fourth and Rea fifth.
Then in the second race, Kiyonari, who had failed to finish in the first heat, finished third, followed by Chris Walker, Gregorio Lavilla next, Shane Byrne sixth and Rea seventh.