RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha’s Brad Ray was this weekend crowned the Bennetts British Superbike Champion of 2022 at his home circuit of Brands Hatch. The 25-year-old from Lydd secured the crown on Saturday with two races to spare. Qualifying sixth on the grid for the Sprint Race, Ray needed seventh place and nine points to secure his maiden British Championship and duly delivered, bringing his Yamaha R1 home in fifth place to the delight of the team, who secured the Bennetts British Superbike Team Championship at the same time.
An issue with the quickshifter for Kyle Ryde in the opening race meant the Nottinghamshire rider had to change gear using his clutch for the first time since 2019 and worked hard to bring his Yamaha R1 home inside the top ten. A fantastic ride in Sunday’s opening race saw the former British GP2 Champion take a strong fourth place at Brands Hatch before ending the season with tenth place in the final race to round off his best season to date.
Sunday didn’t work out quite the way the team hoped for Brad Ray as he uncharacteristically slipped out of contention at Paddock Hill Bend, his Yamaha R1 cartwheeling through the gravel leaving his crew with a lot of work to do. Replacing at least 75% of the machine, the mechanics did an incredible job to get Ray out onto the grid for race three and for the champion to receive the trophy in front of a bumper Brands Hatch crowd.
James Hillier enjoyed his final outing of the season in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship race. Qualifying 14th the Ringwood-based TT legend finished in 19th place and posted his fastest-ever lap of Brands Hatch aboard his Yamaha R1. Chloe Jones rounded off an increasingly difficult Pirelli Junior Superstock season for the Daventry rider with a DNF in Race 1 and 29th place in Race 2. Junior Supersport rider, Lissy Whitmore, made a huge effort to ride on Friday morning but the pain from her injured ankle was too much, and sat out the final weekend of action in Junior Supersport.
After the weekend, the champion said: “It’s been an unbelievable season, we knew coming into the championship that we had a great package with the Yamaha R1 and great structure around me but I never thought I’d be stood here at Brands Hatch as Bennetts British Superbike Champion. It’s been an enjoyable season; we’ve all grafted, the whole team, my family, and myself, and we’ve been in a good place all year. We’ve taken the opportunities when we needed to, we did enough in the regular season and again in the Showdown so I’m super proud of myself and the team and everyone around us to lift my first Bennetts British Superbike title.”
Kyle Ryde added: “Friday was difficult, we had some teething issues so my weekend didn’t start until Saturday but we plugged away and did a great lap time in both qualifying sessions and were in a great place to start the weekend off. We had gear selector issues in race one which was a shame as I thought that was our best chance of getting a trophy this weekend but race two felt great to finish fourth. We gambled a bit on set-up for race three but that didn’t quite work out and we know now what not to do for 2023 when we return here in the summer. Well done to Brad and the team, it’s been a mega season for us both.”
Team Principal Paul Curran was understandably delighted, “To achieve what we have in just five seasons is something that the whole team can be immensely proud of. To become not only Bennetts British Superbike Champions but the Team Champions as well is something none of us will forget. Thank you to Yamaha Racing UK, Steve Rodgers at Raceways Motorcycles, and the McAMS Yamaha team, their support has been invaluable.
It’s been the most incredible team journey in BSB from the early days with Gino Rea, to Josh Elliott, Luke Mossey and Hector Barbera before Brad and Kyle joined us in 2021 and of course, Billy McConnell on our Superstock machines for three seasons. None of this would be possible without the trust and support of Alan Gardner and the dedication of every member of the team from the garage to hospitality, we can all look back at an incredible season and a job very well done.”