Bradley Ray claimed a sensational pole position for this afternoon’s Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Oulton Park, the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha rider setting the fastest ever two wheel lap of the Cheshire circuit.
Ray also posted the first ever 1’32’ lap and was more than three quarters of a second quicker than Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) with Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) completing the front row.
It was Josh Brookes, Lee Jackson, Andrew Irwin, Ryan Vickers, Dean Harrison and Takumi Takahashi who progressed from Q1, the Aussie ace topping the leaderboard with a strong lap time of 1’34.291s, but when the 12-minute Q2 session got underway it was Bridewell who set the initial pace with a 1’34.177s.
The first flying lap saw 12 riders in the 1’34’s but Ray completely obliterated the field with his first lap being a sensational 1’32.948s, the first ever 1’32 lap around the Cheshire circuit. That put him more than a second clear of Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) with Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing), Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) and Brookes (MCE Ducati) following, Bridewell pushed back to sixth.
That then became seventh as O’Halloran moved up to second with a 1’34.035 but the Wiltshire man responded with a lap of 1’33.744s seeing him move up to second although that was still 0.796s slower than Ray’s stunning lap!
Hickman moved back ahead of O’Halloran to go third with three minutes to go and the Australian was then bumped back another spot as Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) slotted into fourth. Andrew Irwin was an impressive sixth quickest on the second Synetiq BMW, no mean feat given his heavy crash on Friday that saw him sit out FP2.
The closing minutes saw no change in the top two but O’Halloran got back onto the front row, the third and last rider to dip below 1’34 and teammate Tarran Mackenzie also made a late move going from eleventh to fifth, Hickman sandwiched between the two Yamaha riders.
Haslam ended up sixth with Andrew Irwin, Buchan, Glenn Irwin and Rory Skinner (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) completing the top ten. The remaining Title Fighters, Lee Jackson and Kyle Ryde, placed 11th and 12th respectively.