Bradley Ray took a dominant Bennetts British Superbike Championship victory on Saturday afternoon with the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha rider winning the 12-lap eBay Sprint race from Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) and team-mate Kyle Ryde.
Ryde got the holeshot from pole man Christian Iddon (Buildbase Suzuki) and Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) but Ray hit the front at the end of the Bentley Straight although the safety car was quickly out due to a crash at Agostini’s involving Showdown hopeful Danny Buchan, Ryan Vickers and Josh Owens, local rider Vickers suffering concussion.
The running order at the end of the lap was Ray, Ryde, Iddon, Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati), Irwin and Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati) with Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) already up to tenth, from 21st on the grid. Jason O’Halloran on the second McAMS Yamaha had gone from 19th to 15th and two laps followed under the safety car before racing resumed on lap four.
Ray immediately edged away from Ryde and Iddon but the latter moved up to second at the beginning of lap five and a few corners later, Bridewell relegated Ryde to fourth. And by the end of the lap, Ryde was back in fifth with Irwin also overhauling him.
By lap six, Ray was lapping a second quicker than anyone else and as he started lap seven, his advantage over new second-placed runner Bridewell was up to 2.58s. Iddon, Irwin and Ryde remained in third to fifth with Mackenzie now in sixth after overtaking Sykes.
Irwin dropped back on lap seven after running straight on going into Agostini’s and there was further drama at the end of the lap when Bridewell coasted to a halt coming on to the start and finish straight. He got the Ducati going again albeit in last place.
All that meant, by lap eight, Ray led by almost four seconds, and it was now Mackenzie up to second, the reigning champion taking advantage of the disruption ahead of him. Iddon was still in third with Ryde, Andrew Irwin and Haslam the running order behind.
Ryde got back into third place on lap nine but two laps later, Andrew Irwin ran straight on at the end of the back straight, going onto the grass, across the track on the exit of the Esses and then back onto the grass where he crashed out.
Ray had no such trouble and romped to victory with Mackenzie and team-mate Ryde joining him on the podium, victory seeing Ray extend his lead in the championship and also take the lead in the podium credits table.
Iddon took a well-earned fourth and with Andrew Irwin’s demise, Haslam was promoted to a strong fifth whilst sixth place for Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) secured his place in the Showdown alongside team-mate Rory Skinner.
Sykes, Peter Hickman, Glenn Irwin and Danny Kent completed the top ten with Irwin also securing his place in the Showdown. O’Halloran crossed the line in 12th.