Rich OMG Yamaha’s Bradley Ray has been crowned the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Champion with a fifth-placed finish at Brands Hatch.
Ray only needed nine points from the sprint race for overall victory and crossed the line just behind title rival Tommy Bridewell.
Glenn Irwin took a dominant victory the race but fifth place was enough for Ray to be made kimg.
Honda’s Irwin did all he could to take the title into the final day and led from start to finish, being joined on the podium by Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) and Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW), although most eyes were on Ray and the rode the perfect race to take his and the Rich Energy OMG Racing’s first BSB title.
Glenn Irwin got the jump off the line, and he led the field into Paddock Hill Bend, Hickman slotting into second, but further back in the pack Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) and Tom Neave (Honda Racing) crashed out. Neave’s team-mate Ryo Mizuno and the MCE Ducati of Josh Brookes were also affected by the crash and retired to the pits.
Back at the front and Irwin led Hickman at the end of the lap with Andrew Irwin slotting into third ahead Kyle Ryde, Ray and Danny Kent (Buildbase Suzuki). Tommy Bridewell had a poor start though and was back in seventh on the Oxford Products Ducati.
The front four were beginning to edge away and at the start of lap three Glenn Irwin, Hickman, Andrew Irwin and Ray were a second ahead of new fifth placed man Bridewell. Ray had a slight slide coming onto the start and finish which was a gentle reminder of the fine line being trod.
Ryde was now sixth with the running order behind Kent, Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha), Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) and Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati) but back at the front, less than half a second covered the leading three riders as they started their sixth lap. Ray had dropped back slightly as Bridewell began to close in.
Bridewell’s hopes then took a nosedive as he went into Paddock Hill a bit hot and ran wide, losing all the time he’d just made up whilst Hickman was now coming under extreme pressure from Andrew Irwin as Glenn began to edge away slightly.
His lead was almost half a second as he started his ninth lap and a lap later, he added another two tenths of a second to his advantage. And it was now an Irwin 1-2 as Andrew got by Hickman whilst Ray wasn’t out of a podium finish as he lay 0.7s adrift.
Hickman got back into second at the start of the eleventh lap, but all the time Glenn Irwin was extending his lead and it was more than two seconds with just four laps to go. Bridewell, meanwhile, was regrouping and was beginning to reel Ray back in. further back, O’Halloran and Buchan were battling for sixth place.
Glenn Irwin eventually ran out a comfortable winner with Hickman holding off Andrew Irwin for third and although Bridewell moved up to fourth at Surtees on lap 14, fifth place for Ray was enough for him to clinch his maiden BSB title with two races to go.
O’Halloran held off Buchan for sixth with Kent, Ryde and Sykes rounding out the top ten but Ryan Vickers and Christian Iddon crashed out at Stirlings on the final lap when running in 12th and 13th.