Due to potential adverse weather conditions, the Bennetts BSB officials made a change to the original schedule on Saturday afternoon, with the Superbike class racing on Sunday and Monday, after a shortened final free practice and qualifying session on Easter Sunday morning.
The short 30-minute qualifying session saw James run strong lap times although struggling with arm pump and sat in third place, until the dying moments when he was pegged back by Shane Byrne to fourth, meaning he would head up the second row for Sunday’s first race.
As the lights went out James made a great start to race one, taking the lead after the opening sequence of corners. By lap six he was joined by Bradley Ray and they started to battle for the lead. The Suzuki then began to pull a slight gap on James, but with two laps to go he started to reel in the leader.
On the final lap James looked to pull a move on the leader, however third-place man Shane Byrne made his move on James with two corners to go, losing out on the drag to the line, taking the flag in third place.
After heavy rain fall during Monday morning, the track had a drying line for the second Bennetts British Superbike Championship race, which saw most riders choose full slick tyres.
Starting from fourth once again James made a great start but was pushed wide at turn one and fell back to seventh following the opening set of laps. He soon barged his way past Glenn Irwin for sixth place and went in pursuit of Shane Byrne.
As he chased down the Ducati man he ran slightly wide on the exit of the Melbourne Loop, hit a damp patch of tarmac and crashed out of the race.
James: “I’m just purely frustrated, before race two the game plan was to get away on the clean line from the start. I felt quite comfortable, but a few guys ran the intermediate front tyre and they went for the inside line on the damp patches into turn one and I got bullied, pushed out wide and I ended up a little bit too far behind.
“It was then frustrating to get past Glenn because there wasn’t anywhere really to pass, he was fast, but I felt there were a lot of areas I was faster in, so I was desperate to get past him. It was a big move to get past and then I dropped him. I then went in pursuit of Shakey, I knew I had good pace and I was strong out of the Melbourne Hairpin but as I accelerated out I must have ran slightly wider than normal because I hit a wet patch and I had a massive high side.
“I’m disappointed for the team, it’s been a good start to the season and I’ve got to forget the crash. The package is further on than what most people thought it would be, so I’m taking the positives out of this weekend and moving on from it.”