Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki’s Lee Jackson won Sunday afternoon’s opening Bennetts British Superbike race at Oulton Park in what can only be described as a crash fest with four of the Showdown contenders – Jason O’Halloran, Tarran Mackenzie, Rory Skinner and Kyle Ryde – all hitting the deck.
Third for Bradley Ray though, behind second placed Tommy Bridewell – who had his own fair share of dramas – meant the Rich Energy OMG Yamaha rider extended his championship lead to 53 points.
The initial race start saw O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) make full use of his pole position to lead into Old Hall although there was contact between him and Ray and the latter wasted no time in moving to the front, taking the lead at Cascades.
Ray pressed on at the head of the field, leading by 1.2s at the end of the lap, but Druids was the scene of drama once more and in a near carbon copy of the previous day, contact was made between O’Halloran and Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) this time, with the Yamaha man again coming off worse and crashing out.
Once the dust had settled, Ray was leading by 1.6s at the end of lap two with Skinner on the second FS-3 Kawasaki in second place ahead of Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha), Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW), Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) and Bridewell. O’Halloran, meanwhile, had been stretchered away although he was soon back on his feet.
Bridewell was given a ride through penalty for his part in the earlier collision but before he got chance to take it, Mackenzie crashed out at Hizzy’s with Hickman, left with nowhere to go, hitting the fallen champion. Hickman was unscathed and immediately went to check on Mackenzie with the red flag brought out soon after.
The race was re-started over 12 laps with Bridewell made to start at the back of the grid where he was joined by Hickman but that was of little concern to Ray who led Skinner by a second at the end of the opening lap.
Ryde and Jackson slotted into third and fourth, but Ryde was up to second a lap later with Jackson also moving ahead of Skinner. Buildbase Suzuki’s Christian Iddon and Honda’s Glenn Irwin were running in fifth and sixth with Bridewell and Hickman on the edge of the points.
Ray was ploughing on in the lead with his advantage up to 2.9s by the end of lap three and it was now Jackson in second from Ray’s teammate Kyle Ryde, Skinner, Iddon and Irwin. However, rain was beginning to fall on the far part of the circuit and Skinner ran into the back of Iddon at Brittens with the duo crashing out, Skinner’s bike also collecting Ryde and sending Irwin up the slip road.
Skinner and Iddon both received attention, the Scot getting trapped in the back of the Suzuki although he was soon on his feet unlike Iddon who was in considerable pain. The incident brought out another red flag and was eventually restarted once more, this time over just seven laps.
Ray grabbed the lead off the line but there was yet more drama with Ryde, starting from the back of the grid, highsiding out of Old Hall and collecting Honda’s Tom Neave. Back at the front and Ray led Irwin, Jackson, Bridewell and the Synetiq BMW pairing of Danny Buchan and Andrew Irwin at the end of lap one.
At the end of lap three, Ray’s lead stood at just 0.148s over Irwin with Jackson in third but the latter then went up to first in the next two corners with Bridewell grabbing third at Shell Oils corner. The race was now a five-rider battle with Buchan also in the mix.
Bridewell overtook Ray at the beginning of lap four and as the race entered its closing stages, Jackson and Bridewell had opened up a small gap over third placed Ray although the latter lost ground on the final lap after a slide exiting Old Hall.
He wasn’t able to recover and Jackson duly repeated his victory from earlier in the year at the Cheshire venue with Ray completing the podium in third ahead of Irwin and Buchan. Haslam took sixth with the MCE Ducati duo of Tom Sykes and Josh Brookes finishing in seventh and eighth from Andrew Irwin and Hickman.