Andrew Irwin powered to his maiden Bennetts British Superbike victory after a dramatic race-long battle in this afternoon’s first scrap.
The Honda Racing rider was the shock winner after overhauling Peter Hickman and Jason O’Halloran before fending off a late charge from Be Wiser Ducati’s Scott Redding.
From the inside of the front row, Smith’s BMW’s Hickman shot into the lead ahead of Tommy Bridewell and Irwin, but the Honda Racing man soon snatched second from the local ace while pole-sitter Redding fell back down to sixth.
Heading into the Club Chicane for the first of 20 laps, Irwin snatched the lead from Hickman just as Jason O’Halloran moved into third and Christian Iddon fourth, knocking Bridewell back to fifth.
Iddon barged through on O’Halloran to go third and joined a four-way fight for the lead as the McAMS Yamaha man moved ahead of Hickman and Irwin to take the lead before Iddon followed the Aussie through to tuck into second.
By lap seven, Hickman sliced his way under Irwin coming over Woodham Hill, but the Northern Irishman tried to hit back at Club before Hickman snatched third back heading over the start-finish line.
Hickman then pulled the same move on Iddon the very next time around and squeezed the Tyco BMW man back to third as he began pursuing O’Halloran, grabbing the lead at Noble while O’Halloran fell victim to a move from Iddon as the race crossed half distance.
Just two laps after Matt Truelove crashed out at the Club Chicane, Bike Devil MV Agusta’s Danny Kent was forced to pull off track with issues.
Back in the podium fight, Iddon fell to fourth again as Irwin passed him, but by then Redding was right on his tail and the former GP man forced his way through at the Complex just before team-mate Brookes followed him through.
Redding continued his push through the pack as he levered O’Halloran aside and began eyeing a move on Irwin for second before the latter powered ahead of Hickman to take the lead, leaving the TT star in Redding’s sights.
Moments later while heading into the Complex, Redding slid through on Hickman just before both O’Halloran and Brookes moved ahead of the Smith’s rider.
O’Halloran took both Redding and Irwin just before the leaders started their fourth lap from the finish while Brookes took third from his team-mate, but just behind the leading five was FS-3 Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan, who had shot forward into podium contention from back down in a lone eighth.
With three laps to go, the front-running four of O’Halloran, Irwin, Brookes and Redding stretched a slight lead but as they began the penultimate lap, Irwin snatched the lead from O’Halloran.
The PBM boys moved into second and third before Redding forced his way up the inside of Brookes at the Complex and set Irwin in his sights, but his move came moments too late as Irwin held on to snatch his first career BSB win, while Redding and Brookes completed the podium ahead of O’Halloran.
Hickman fended off advances from Buchan to bag fifth, while the second Honda of Xavi Fores got the better of Oxford Racing’s Bridewell as the local man took eighth.
OMG Suzuki’s Luke Mossey and RAF Regular and Reserves’ Ryan Vickers, who had dropped down to 17th early in the race, rounded out the top 10.