Peter Hickman took his seventh career British Superbike Championship race win on Sunday, the FHO Racing BMW rider getting the better of Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) and Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) in the opening race of the day at Brands Hatch.
The race started with front row man Tommy Bridewell forced to start from pitlane after his Oxford Products Ducati was wheeled off the grid and polesitter Glenn Irwin led the field at the end of the opening lap, closely followed by brother Andrew, Hickman, Buchan and Bradley Ray (Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha), the front five having opened up a small gap.
However, drama immediately followed as recently crowned champion Ray made a rare mistake and slid out of the action at Paddock Hill bend. That meant the front four now had a two second advantage over Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) and Christian Iddon (Buildbase Suzuki) who were now running in fifth and sixth.
Hickman moved up to second on lap three and the BMW man took the lead at the start of the following lap, going up the inside of Glenn Irwin at Paddock Hill. Leon Haslam was out though, the VisionTrack Kawasaki rider touring in to retire.
Hickman soon began to increase his lead, the gap to Glenn Irwin up to three quarters of a second at the end of lap five, and O’Halloran was closing up to the back of fourth placed Buchan. Bridewell, meanwhile, had worked his way up to 17th.
Further back, Iddon, Kyle Ryde and Danny Kent were locked in battle for seventh with a similar three-way dice going on for ninth between the MCE Ducati paring of Tom Sykes and Josh Brookes and Charlie Nesbitt on the third Buildbase Suzuki.
Back at the front and the leading four riders were closing back up again, just eight tenths of a second covering Hickman, Glenn Irwin, Andrew Irwin and Buchan with eight laps gone. O’Halloran’s charge looked to have ended as he was now 1.6s in arrears of Buchan.
Hickman still led at half distance, but Andrew had overhauled Glenn for second with the gap between the quartet now just half a second. O’Halloran was having a second wind and had brought his deficit down to 1.1s. Bridewell was up to 12th and this soon became 11th as he dived up the inside of Sykes at Druids.
Buchan pushed Glenn Irwin back to fourth on lap 13 and the Essex rider then took over second from Andrew Irwin with a move at the same Stirlings corner a lap later. O’Halloran was with them as well with just a second covering the leading five riders with five laps to go.
Hickman continued to control the race from the front and in the closing stages it looked as if Buchan could be the only man to deny him the race win. It wasn’t to be though, and Hickman became the 10th different winner of 2022, his winning margin over Buchan 0.622s with Glenn Irwin taking third.
There was drama behind him though and whilst O’Halloran took fourth from Andrew Irwin on lap 18, the two came together at Surtees on the final lap, with O’Halloran crashing out and Irwin running wide.
That allowed Ryde to take fourth from Bridewell, who put in a storming ride to take fifth, with Kent having another strong ride in sixth. Iddon, Andrew Irwin, Nesbitt and Brookes completed the top ten although the incident between O’Halloran and Irwin is currently under investigation.