A ninth win of the season and another second-place finish, making it 23 podiums from 30 races, at Donington Park at the weekend saw Bradley Ray move into a 66-point lead in this year’s Bennetts British Superbike Championship and plant one hand firmly on the title.
The Rich OMG Yamaha rider won’t hear of any talk until the job’s finally done but with only three races left and 75 points remaining, it’s hard to see anything other than him being crowned champion at Brands Hatch in two week’s time such has been his form throughout the season.
He’s been the undoubted class act of the 2022 Championship and this was again in evidence at Donington when, after taking fourth place in Saturday’s Sprint race, he responded with a first and a second on Sunday, also setting a new lap record of 1’28.597 around the 2.5-mile GP circuit, more than three tenths of a second quicker than the previous mark.
“I was pretty much at my limit in Sunday’s first race and went with the harder SCO rear tyre as I felt comfortable with it and felt it would give us a bit of an advantage in the closing stages,” he said afterwards.
“Tom (Sykes) had phenomenal pace though, so I was happy to stay with him after he’d come by. I was hoping his tyre would drop off and be able to take advantage, but it wasn’t to be although I was over the moon with second after missing out in Saturday’s race.”
However, he saved the best until last and overhauled Sykes to take the lead in the final race on the fourth lap. Glenn Irwin made sure he wasn’t going to have it all his own way and went ahead after the safety car had pulled in following Jason O’Halloran’s crash, only for Ray to respond and retake the lead shortly afterwards.
Setting the new lap record on the tenth of 18 laps, he was able to control the race from there on in and ran out victor by a comfortable 2.2s.
“I went with the SC0 again for the final race but didn’t know what to expect when Glenn came by as I wasn’t sure if he had more pace than us. As it was, he slowed things down a bit, which bunched us back up so not long after