JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam opened up a 28-point lead in the MCE British Superbike Championship after a hard-fought victory at Knockhill ahead of Honda’s Dan Linfoot.
Haslam and Linfoot were engaged in battle for much of the contest, with the Derbyshire rider just getting the edge towards the end of the 30-lap race by 0.2seconds as Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey completed the podium a further half a second back.
Linfoot’s team-mate Jason O’Halloran was the first rider into Turn 1 when the flag dropped, swooping ahead of Haslam as pole-sitter Shane Byrne and his Be Wiser Ducati dropped right back to ninth.
EpayMe Yamaha’s John Hopkins was also in the tussle from the start, as both he and Haslam soon overtook O’Halloran before an incident involving Byrne and Briggs Equipment BMW’s Jake Dixon saw the safety car come out.
Byrne fell first at the hairpin as the front went from under him, and he was swiftly followed by Dixon who fell into him.
As the BMW rider was working around how to remove his bike from the track Josh Wainwright came careering into him resulting in Dixon being removed by stretcher.
That left the safety car out for a few laps, but when it disappeared Hopkins made his way into the lead before a defiant Haslam charged past once again.
A touch between Hopkins and Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty at the hairpin caused problems for both, dropping Laverty way down and hindering Hopkins’ chances of victory as Haslam now had Linfoot to worry about.
What ensued was a terrific second half of the race, with both men swapping the lead mostly at the hairpin as Mossey and Hopkins tried valiantly to close up.
Linfoot once again found himself in the lead after another terrific move at the hairpin on lap 24 and it looked as if the Honda rider was on for a magnificent first victory on the Fireblade, but Haslam had other ideas.
The Derbyshire rider repaid the favour to Linfoot three laps later, outbraking the Honda rider into the hairpin and storming into the lead.
A valiant last lap from Linfoot saw him try everything on the 1.2mile circuit but Haslam held on bravely to take his first victory at Knockhill since winning on the HM Plant Honda in 2008.
Mossey finished a fine third, at one stage looking like he could make a move on the leaders, ahead of Hopkins, JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Peter Hickman and Buildbase BMW’s Richard Cooper.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Ellison held seventh, ahead of Laverty, O’Halloran and a fine result for Moto Rapido Ducati with Danny Buchan rounding out the top ten.