Easton wins British Supersport title 20 | 10 | 2013

    SCOTS MOTORBIKE RACER Stuart Easton (pictured) capped a fantastic comeback season by winning the British SuperSport Championship in a nailbiting finale at Brands Hatch.

    For the 30-year-old from Hawick — back racing full-time after recovering from a horrific 130mph crash in Ireland in 2011 in which he broke both his legs, shattered his pelvis and sustained life-threatening internal injuries — it was an emotional moment.

    "This makes all the hard work getting back to full fitness, worth it," he said at the Kent circuit today, "and it's payback for all my family and friends, and the team, who have stuck by me."

    Easton entered the season's final weekend leading the Kawasaki of Carrickfergus's Alastair Seeley by 19 points.

    But after Saturday's first race, in damp greasy conditions, the gap had been slashed to just four after Seeley finished second with Easton a distant 11th.

    And with the Irishman starting today's final race from pole and the Scot 11th, allied to the difference between first and second in the race being five points, Easton knew he had to win.

    But there was drama right from the opening lap of the finale. With Seeley lying second in the race and Easton having moved up to eighth, the race was stopped as the skies opened midway through the first lap.

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    At the restart, and with the bikes all now fitted with tyres for the wet conditions, Seeley immediately grabbed control and led the race.

    Easton though was like a man possessed gradually carving his way through the field, and as the conditions worsened he had moved up to second, immediately behind the Irishman.

    Crucially, midway through the ninth lap of the scheduled 15, Easton eased past Seeley. The Irishman dropped to third as Richard Cooper's Triumph moved into second.

    Significantly, that was the order as they crossed the start/finish line to start lap 11.

    The drama though was about to unfold. Seeley retook the lead, but midway through the lap the race was red-flagged and stopped following a crash involving the Triumph of Luke Stapleford.

    The result was then taken from the positions the riders held as they crossed the start/finish line at the end of the previous lap: the only lap Easton had led in the race.

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    Not surprisingly, it was an emotional Easton who returned to the pits to be congratulated not only by his Mar-Train Yamaha team, but a swarm of fellow riders fully aware of the journey he had endured since his Irish crash.

    "It's difficult really to put into words exactly what this means, admitted Easton, who was mentored early in his career by multiple British Superbike and TT winner, Steve Hislop, who died 10 years ago in a helicopter crash.

    "I was ready to do whatever it took to win the race and the championship: I was prepared to crash or go off, but I had to win the race.

    "I just thought, if I'm second or third I won't be British champion, so I just had to go for it," the Scot, who has already signed with Paul Bird's Kawasaki team to step up to the British Superbikes in 2014, continued.

    "I managed to get into the lead, and then the red flag came out at the right time and that was it: I was champion.

    "I didn't care how we did it, as long as we did it. I've made it hard for myself at times this season, but we've won it.

    "I won 10 races, which is more than anyone else this year, so I probably deserve it, and I guess that's why we're champions."

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    Jim McGill

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