Stuart Easton put his Hydrex Honda on to pole start for the weekend’s triple race finale to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli at Oulton Park.
The Flying Scot headed off the challenge of the Airwaves Yamaha in the hands of newly crowned champion Leon Camier by a split second in a high speed climax to the Swan Combi 50 Roll for Pole, at the Cheshire circuit.
Easton put in a scorching time of 1m 36.042secs to claim his first pole start in the series, responding superbly to Camier who had moments earlier looked set to top the leaderboard with a time of 1m 36.055secs.
Karl Harris, fastest in free practice, continued his run of form to be third fastest with the Sorrymate.com SMT Honda, just ahead of Tommy Hill aboard the second Hydrex Honda.
James Ellison, needing strong results to ensure that he takes the runner-up spot under pressure from Easton, heads the second row with a lap in 1m 36.704secs, with Josh Brookes, Michael Rutter and Ian Lowry alongside him.
The first of the three races starts at 15.15 this afternoon (Saturday) and will be shown live on British Eurosport.
Top ten qualifying times – final round
1 S Easton Hydrex Honda 1m 36.042s
2 L Camier Airwaves Yamaha 1m 36.055s
3 K Harris Sorrymate.com Honda 1m 36.196s
4 T Hill Hydrex Honda 1m 36.227s
5 J Ellison Airwaves Yamaha 1m36.704s
6 J Brookes HM Plant Honda 1m 36.782s
7 M Rutter Bathams Ducati 1m 36.800s
8 I Lowry Relentless Suzuki 1m 37.146s
9 S Guintoli Worx Crescent Suzuki 1m 37.336s
10 J Laverty Buildbase Kawasaki 1m 37.627s
Stuart Easton snatched last lap victory in a four way thriller in the opening race of the final round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli at Oulton Park.
It triggered a double celebration for the Flying Scot who earlier in the day had headed off the challenge of the newly crowned champion Leon Camier in the duel for pole start, and then in a hard-fought race, the Hydrex Honda again enjoyed the better of his Airwaves Yamaha rival.
Easton is now well placed to challenge for the runner-up spot in the standings, going into Sunday afternoon’s two races just 39 points down on James Ellison, with 50 points to play for.
The Saturday afternoon race was one of the best of the season, with the action, for real, being decided over a dozen laps of the Cheshire circuit after the initial start was red-flagged. Karl Harris crashed heavily at Island, suffering concussion and a sore back, but prior to that Graeme Gowland had spectacularly tipped off with his bike somersaulting into the lake.
Racing resumed with Easton making a swift get-away but Ellison, riding Airwaves Yamaha was hounding him, and taking the lead at Hizzy’s – there was little in it, while behind them Tommy Hill, Simon Andrews and Camier were locked in a shoot-out for third.
Ellison held the advantage into the fifth lap before Easton went through with Camier snatching second from his team-mate, leaving Ellison to deal with the determined Hill.
Easton was riding hard to hold off Camier, but the champion found a way through at Lodge on the tenth lap prompting a dramatic, and effective fight-back. Easton traded places twice on the penultimate lap but it seemed Camier had done enough.
The Hydrex Honda rider had other ideas, and with a move that his mentor, the late former champion Steve Hislop would have been proud of, Easton nosed inside at Hizzy’s chicane, grabbing the lead, and his second victory, taking the flag by 0.208secs.
“That was a proper victory, beating Leon fair and square, but it was hard work, very difficult,” said Easton, adding “the bike is getting better and better and it would be good to take Sunday’s two race wins.”
Camier had no complaints: “That was unbelievable, a great race. Stuart deserved his win.”
Hill took third for the Hydrex team, ahead of Ellison with Sylvain Guintoli taking fifth from Andrews on the final lap. Julien da Cost ran just ahead of Ian Lowry, Chris Walker and tenth placed John Laverty while Gary Mason headed the Mirror.co.uk Cup finishers, just clear of Peter Hickman, Tommy Bridewell, Tom Tunstall and Martin Jessopp.
Top ten finishers –
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli
Race one – 12 laps
Stuart Easton (Hydrex Honda) 19m 21.434secs
Leon Camier (Airwaves Yamaha) +0.208s
Tommy Hill (Hydrex Honda) +0.222s
James Ellison (Airwaves Yamaha) +0.331s
Sylvain Guintoli (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +13.129s
Simon Andrews (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +13.129s
Julien Da Costa (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +13.599s
Ian Lowry (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +13.837s
Chris Walker (Motorpoint/Henderson Yamaha) +14.771s
John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) +14.815s