BOLTON motorbike racer Lee Costello had a difficult start to the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch.

The Bolton-based Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki team had a hard act to follow after they came second at the same track last year.

In rainy conditions, the Easter Sunday qualifying sessions proved difficult with Costello crashing out in the early stages of the first qualifying and having to start race one from the back of the grid.

Sunny and dry weather greeted the beginning of the first race and the 27-year-old steadily made his way through the field to finish 17th. That was followed by an 18th placed finish in race two.

Round two takes place at Costello’s home circuit of Oulton Park in just over a week.

Horwich’s Malachi Mitchell-Thomas took part in the Superstock 600 Class race at Brands Hatch, the support race to the British Superbike.

The 18-year-old former Rivington and Blackrod pupil impressed with solid performances in both wet and dry conditions.

He was consistently up in the top 20 throughout the weekend’s testing and qualifying and achieved a sixth position in the second qualifying with an eventual start position of 18th place on row six.

However, in the opening laps, he crashed out and was lucky not to sustain injury.

He said: “The weekend was really good for me and we improved throughout. I was disappointed with the end result, but I’ll live to fight on at Oulton Park.”