Samsung Honda's Jon Kirkham took advantage of a mistake from leader Alastair Seeley to drive underneath the little Irishman on the exit of Clark Curve to win the opening British Superbike race of 2012 at a soaking wet Brands Hatch this lunchtime.
The Derbyshire man, who takes his career win tally to two, was in contention for the whole race which saw four riders, including title contender Michael Laverty, go down on the first lap while reigning champion Tommy Hill also fell foul of the conditions, crashing out at Graham Hill Bend as he did in qualifying yesterday.
After a mid-race safety car following Dan Linfoot's accident it was left to Kirkham, Seeley, MSS Kawasaki's Michael Rutter and Josh Brookes to fight for the win. Seely moved ahead of Rutter on lap 19, going underneath the 39-year-old into Paddock before going past Kirkham at Druids two laps later. Brookes, who was setting personal fastest laps, then survived a big moment into Graham Hill and dropped to tenth where he finished.
Seeley then tried to move away from the Honda but Kirkham was having none of it, shadowing the reigning British Supersport Champion until the last lap and pounced when the Tyco Suzuki's rear wheel came round and he lost drive.
Padgett's Honda man Ian Lowry rode a steady race on his full-time return to the series for fourth while Gary Mason will be over the moon with his fifth place. Tommy Bridewell, who hasn't ridden on a circuit since last October, got the better of Shane Byrne sixth while James Westmoreland was the leading WFR Honda man in eighth. Freddy Foray kept his Quattro Kawasaki ahead of Brookes for ninth.
Italian Superbike Champion Alex Polita took the Jentin Panigale to 11th place ahead of Chris Walker, Noriyuki Haga and local man Scott Smart. James Hillier completed the top 15.
Front-row man Tristan Palmer crashed out on lap eight, while PBM Kawasaki's Stuart Easton pulled in on the same circulation. Luca Scassa caught the white line on the exit of Paddock and went down but sprang back to his feet. Jenny Tinmouth crashed on the warm-up lap in a bizarre crash on the way down to Graham Hill.
Grid for race two
Seeley (pole), Kirkham, Brookes, Mason
Lowry, Rutter, Westmoreland, Bridewell