Seeley scorching ahead in battle for Supersport crown
Alastair Seeley emerged from two scintillating British Supersport Championship races at Oulton Park having extended his series lead with a win and a second place.
In the sprint race Scottish rival Stuart Easton, riding for the Lisburn-based Mar-Train Yamaha team, held off last lap challenges from the Gearlink Kawasaki of Seeley to win by half a machine length to reduce the Ulsterman's championship lead to 35 points.
But Seeley hit back yesterday in an intense eight rider battle that saw the 'Wee Wizard' constantly swap the lead with team-mate Ben Wilson and Jason O'Halloran with Billy McConnell snapping at their heels.
Seeley dropped to fourth at one stage, but the resilient Carrickfergus ace roared back to take the lead on the penultimate lap of 15.
With his last lap the fastest of the race he won by almost half a second from McConnell and O'Halloran with Easton losing ground in the championship chase by finishing fourth, the Scot now 47 points behind.
A jubilant Seeley said: "That was a pretty special win. Although there were a lot of close overtakes, we never touched at any stage and I'm happy to win and extend the championship lead. It really was a perfect weekend."
The triple header MCE British Superbike Championship produced three different winners in James Ellison, Shayne Byrne and Tyco Suzuki's Newtownards-based Aussie Josh Brookes, who was scoring his first win at the Cheshire circuit.
Ellison successfully held off defending champion Byrne by a 10th of a second in the opening race on Saturday in which Alex Lowes was third and Brookes fourth, his machine suffering an injector problem.
The top five in the series produced two tremendous races yesterday with Byrne taking victory in race two, a 10th of a second ahead of Brookes, while Ryuichi Kiyonari finished third after Ellison was pushed wide by Lowes and forced to bale out at high speed, luckily without injury.
Lowes subsequently crashed out uninjured on the last lap when attempting a pass on Brookes.
The final race of the weekend was a five rider epic between Byrne, Brookes, Lowes, Ellison and Tommy Bridewell after Kiyonari ran straight on at the chicane and dropped to 21st.
Brookes edged ahead of Byrne on lap 14 of 18 and despite concerted efforts from Byrne and Lowes they could not overhaul the Australian.
Brookes, now confirmed for the title showdown along with Byrne and Lowes, said: "I was pushing as hard as I could all weekend.
"We carried momentum through from first practice on Friday with a few tweaks along the way giving me a better balanced bike with which I could make ground and challenge at the front," he explained.
"I was getting perfect drive off the corners in the last race and kept pushing and pushing for my second win of the season, my first around Oulton," added the Aussie ace.
* Portadown's Marshall Neill was the star man at the Adelaide Masters meeting at Bishopscourt, winning both of the Superbike races.
Riding Wilson Craig's Honda, Neill (left) came from fourth on the grid to beat pole man Cody Nally by a third of a second in race one with David Haire third and Denver Robb fourth – the latter having dropped back in the closing stages due to tyre problems.
Neill comfortably won the second race – and with it the Norman Brown Trophy – finishing one and a half seconds in front of Haire with Nico Mawhinney third following the retirements of Nally and Robb.
Haire won the first Supersport race by a fifth of a second from Jason Lynn with Carl Phillips third, but when it came to race two Phillips got the better of Mawhinney, Lynn, Robert Kennedy and Haire with a second covering the battling quintet as they flashed past the chequered flag.
* Richard Bird from Lisburn was the overall winner of the Billy Hutton Memorial Scramble at Bells Hill, winning legs two and three after finishing runner-up to Tommy Merton in the opening race.