RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha’s Brad Ray was imperious in Norfolk last weekend as he secured his and the team’s first-ever treble win in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. On a weekend where the mood was a more sombre affair after the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II the Kent rider rode an exceptional opening eBay Sprint Race on Saturday afternoon to hold off Tarran Mackenzie by 2.4s with teammate Kyle Ryde taking a fabulous third place finish and with it a big step towards confirming his place in the Showdown.
The first of Sunday’s two longer format races once again saw Ray and Mackenzie battle it out for honours. In his 150th BSB start, Ray led the way from his tenth Pole Position of the season before Mackenzie made recovered from a sluggish start. It was advantage Mackenzie in the closing stages but a perfectly executed pass at the end of the back straight saw the Kent rider take his second win of the weekend and his second double of 2022 aboard his immaculate Yamaha R1.
With a 30-point buffer over his nearest challenger for the final Showdown position the brief was simple for Kyle Ryde and that was to finish ahead of Danny Buchan. The Nottinghamshire rider started fifth on the grid, fifteen places ahead of Buchan, and got off to a strong start as the lights went out. Looking comfortable in the top five, Ryde began to lose touch with the lead group with a technical issue as Buchan charged forward but knowing what he needed to do, the former British 125cc and GP2 Champion brought his Yamaha R1 home in sixth place, securing that all-important Showdown place.
Race three late on Sunday was a carbon copy of race two in the initial stages as Ray and Mackenzie scorched to an early lead. It was Ray who took control before running deep at Montreal, allowing Mackenzie to slip through. The Scot tried to make a break, but Ray sat doggedly behind the McAMS Yamaha rider before the Safety Car was deployed due to allow recovery of an expired motorcycle just past the start line. Mackenzie was keen to restart but Race Control deemed he was too keen and issued a +2s time penalty to the top three for passing the Safety Car. Ray made his move on Mackenzie at almost two-thirds distance before crucially extending his lead to 1.7s at the flag, ultimately taking victory by 0.7s from Hickman as Mackenzie and a bitterly disappointed Glenn Irwin were relegated to third and fourth. Kyle Ryde rounded off his weekend with another solid top ten finish in eighth place.
The series now moves on to Oulton Park and into its Showdown phase where the top eight riders have their points reset to 1000 plus the podium credits accrued across the regular season when five, three, and one credit were awarded for finishing first, second or third. Brad Ray leads the championship by 13 points from Jason O’Halloran with Kyle Ryde sixth overall.
Brad Ray: “It’s been a mega weekend. To take my first BSB treble is a real career highlight and to do it with the RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha team is something special. We’ve had a really good year so far and these results set us up nicely for the next nine races. It wasn’t an easy weekend as Taz fought hard as you know he always will. Despite a small issue in race two, my Yamaha R1 was mega across the weekend so a big thank you to the team for giving me such a great bike. We’ll continue to approach every weekend the same way we have all season and I’m looking forward to getting back to Oulton Park in a couple of weeks.”
Kyle Ryde: “I’m so proud of myself and the team to make it into the Showdown for the first time. After two difficult rounds, it felt so good to be able to fight for positions and podiums again. To take third place on Saturday felt like winning the lottery and really set us up to secure that Showdown place on Sunday. We knew what we had to do in Sunday’s opening race and thankfully we managed it. Thank you to the team for giving me such a great bike this weekend, my Yamaha R1 was awesome to ride and I’m over the moon to come away with a podium and to make it into the final eight. We’re really looking forward to Oulton Park next time out.”
Paul Curran, Team Principal: “I’m absolutely delighted for both Brad and Kyle and for the whole team in securing two Showdown places for the first time in our history. Both riders had different agendas at Snetterton, and they delivered them perfectly. For them to bring home three wins, a third, three team trophies, the Race of Aces trophy, and Bennetts Rider of the Weekend aboard their Yamaha R1 machines is something very special for the riders and for our RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha team and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. There is still a long way to go in the championship, but this weekend is a great springboard into those crucial last nine races.”