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Ritchie Thornton, the 25 year old from Leatherhead, has taken the lead in the ACU Suzuki GSX-R600 Trophy by finishing in third place during Sunday’s fifth round of the Championship at Brands Hatch in Kent.

The race win went to pole sitter and guest rider, Jonathan Pearson, from Superbike magazine. Ulsterman Stanley Gamble came home in second place and is now second overall in the Championship, whilst Thornton secured third place which was enough to give him the series lead.

It was an eventful wet race that saw the Safety Car deployed at mid-race distance due to Paul Rogers burying his GSX-R in the gravel at Clearways. Gamble had worked hard to bridge a 3.13secs gap to Thornton and to keep a hard charging Michael Birch at bay only to have all his hard work negated by the Safety Car.


Once the stranded GSX-R was removed the racing restarted and it was Thornton who initially took the advantage. Gamble on the other hand got caught up with a back marker which slowed his progress. Pearson who had been running in seventh at the start of the race had moved into third place as the Safety Car pulled in and on lap 15 he had found his feet and made a move on both Thornton and Gamble to take the lead.
Gamble wasn’t settling for third and promptly took second place from Thornton at Paddock Hill on lap 17. Pearson continued extending his lead until the end of the race and crossed the line a good 4.79secs clear of Gamble.

MCN’s winner, Colt Dwyer, had an impressive race coming from 12th on the grid to cross the line in sixth place. He was given the Relentless Rider of the Day Award as commentator, Fred Clark, was impressed with how he had worked through the pack. However, he was given a 20sec penalty for over taking prior to the restart and that dropped him to seventh place.
Chris Hawkes finished in ninth place but was also hit with a 20sec penalty for the same offence as Dwyer, however it had a much bigger impact on his placing dropping him right down the order to 15th place and losing him many valuable Championship points.

The Express Insurance Top Gun Novice award went to Michael Birch who did a sterling job of staying in podium contention for two thirds of the race distance; he finished the race in sixth place.

Thornton on 87points is two clear of Gamble, Rogerio Lacerda is in third place with 74 points and former Championship leader, Hawkes, is now in fourth place with 73 points.

The next round of the ACU Suzuki GSX-R Trophy will be on Saturday 26th - Sun 27th July at Anglesey.

Jonathan Pearson said: "I really wasn't expecting to get pole, it was a last minute thing and there wasn't much in it. The weather has not been so nice so I took it steady at the start. I saw my lap times coming down so I started to push a little and I felt better so I started picking them off. There was more grip after the Safety Car had been on track so I was able to overtake. I must say there is a good standard of rider in the Championship. I liked the bike, I've ridden GSX-R600s before but I've never raced on and it is perfect for the job."

Stanley Gamble said: "My aim was to be top five into the first corner and then relax into the race as it was a long one. Once I got into second place I knew I was ok as Pearson wouldn't be scoring points. The Safety Car coming out disturbed my rhythm but I just concentrated on the points and staying ahead of Ritchie."

Ritchie Thornton said: "My race almost went to plan - I wanted to get away in the lead and have time to adjust to the weather. Stanley started catching me and then the Safety Car came out which bunched everyone up. I got back into my rhythm after the safety car went in but I was still at the slower pace and the others had realised how much grip there was and they went for it. I just wish I had realised sooner, but over all I'm pleased as I am now top of the table."

Colt Dwyer said: "That race was wet and tricky. I put in a few good laps but I could have done with the race being longer as I went from 12th to sixth. I'm reasonably happy as my results are improving every time and considering I've never raced at Brands Hatch it's all good."

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