Bradley Ray claimed his first ever treble victory in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with a win in the third and final race at Snetterton on Sunday seeing him seize control on this year’s title race.
It was Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) who grabbed the holeshot and although Ray took the lead going into Agostini’s, it was only for a brief moment as he ran wide whilst Christian Iddon was an early faller from the Buildbase Suzuki.
By the end of the lap, Ray was back in front and he led Mackenzie, Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW), Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati), Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) and Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) but next time around, Glenn overhauled both Bridewell and his younger brother to go third.
Lap three saw O’Halloran and Hickman exchange places for sixth whilst slightly further back a tangle between Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati) and Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) at the hairpin resulted in the former World Superbike Champion crashing out.
Starting lap four, Ray’s lead was just two tenths of a second over Mackenzie and they’d already opened up a healthy margin over the rest of the field, Glenn Irwin in third already 1.5s in arrears but there’d been change further back with Andrew Irwin dropping back to seventh with Bridewell, Hickman and O'Halloran now occupying fourth to sixth.
Lap five saw a change in lead as Ray ran wide and Glenn Irwin had cut the gap slightly to the leaders whilst a lap later Hickman had a heart-stopping moment when, just after setting the fastest lap, he ran straight on at the end of the straight, taking to the grass at high speed although he only lost one place.
Just eight tenths of a second covered the leading three riders as they started their eighth lap but a lap later, the safety car came out after Storm Stacey’s Kawasaki expired along the start and finish straight, the rear wheel locked solid.
Racing resumed two laps later with the field bunched up once more and Ray re-took the lead at the end of the back straight with Mackenzie making a mistake soon after, running wide at turn one and losing second place to Glenn Irwin. He too then made a mistake and Mackenzie got back into second whilst, further back, Bridewell dropped from fourth to sixth.
All of this meant Ray’s lead was up to 1.1s as he started his 13th of 16 laps and he’d increased this by another half second next time around. And although Mackenzie did his best to close the deficit in the closing laps, he was unable to do so and Ray took his seventh win of the season.
However, the margin of victory was closer than anticipated as Ray, Mackenzie and Irwin were all hit by two second penalties for not staying behind the safety car at the point of restart and that meant Ray got the verdict by 0.739s from Hickman with Mackenzie and Irwin relegated to third and fourth respectively.
O’Halloran got fifth from Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki), Bridewell, Kyle Ryde on the second Rich Energy machine, Andrew Irwin and Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki).