Rich OMG Yamaha’s Brad Ray was unchallenged and untouchable in the opening Bennetts British Superbike race at Knockhill on Saturday.
Having lined up on pole position for the first race of the Scottish showing with McAMS’ Jason O’Halloran and Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki’s Lee Jackson alongside, Ray held a near-three-second advantage in the closing stages of the 22-lap race. The Australian stretched his own advantage to maintain second on the second YZF-R1 with Rory Skinner denying his FS-3 teammate to enjoy home podium celebrations in third.
Early drama saw Buildbase Suzuki’s Christian Iddon and Rapid CDH Kawasaki’s Josh Owens come together on the sighting lap in the blustery conditions with reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie out of the opening action due to earlier crashes destroying both his R1s, with the team unable to rebuild his machine in time for lights out.
Ray took the holeshot from O’Halloran with Skinner through on his teammate for third by the opening corner. Danny Buchan held fourth on the Synetiq BMW with Jackson battling Glenn Irwin’s Honda for fifth. Skinner scalped the Australian as he made his way to second on home turf with Kyle Ryde moving up the pack to fourth by lap three.
Storm Stacey started strong on the LKQ Euro Car Parts Kawasaki, running eighth before Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell captured the position with Tom Sykes completing the top ten on the MCE Panigale with four laps done.
Despite managing to line up at the back of the grid Iddon retired the Suzuki as lap seven fired up. Ray running seven-tenths clear of the pursuing pack with Skinner and O’Halloran inseparable with a third distance dispatched.
Dan Jones crashed the iForce BMW out on lap nine with O’Halloran finding his way through on Skinner at the hairpin next time around. Ryde demoted the Scot a further position as Skinner lost podium contention at the halfway stage.
Ray’s command continued with a fastest lap record on lap 12 as Yamaha locked out the podium. Jackson making a move on Buchan for fifth with his FS-3 teammate the next in his sights.
Further back Leon Haslam bettered former WorldSBK rival Sykes on the VisionTrack Kawasaki for tenth, dispatching the Yorkshireman into the path of Ducati teammate Josh Brookes in 12th with Andrew Irwin heading a BMW quartet from 13th.
Skinner returned to third as lap 17 played out, the leading duo two seconds clear apiece at the front before the number 11 looked to reel in the McAMS machine. Ryde dropping to sixth as Bridewell captured Irwin in the battle for seventh.
The Kawasaki fight continued as Jackson took a look at Skinner before returning to fourth. Brookes and Sykes switched positions as the flag came out with Ray crossing the line 1.6 seconds ahead of O’Halloran and Skinner. The victor looking ahead to a pole position on Sunday with Skinner celebrating a podium at home.
Jackson settled for fourth from Buchan, Ryde and Irwin with Bridewell, Stacey and Brookes completing the top ten.