BSB Oulton: Haslam and Cooper win in the damp – Iddon leads the championship!
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By Philip Wain
If there’s one thing to upset the applecart in the MCE British Superbike Championship, it’s the good old UK weather. The second round at Oulton Park saw every kind of condition the UK has to offer but the rain on race day was a terrific leveller although, of course, tyre choice did come into play, particularly in the second race.
Whilst experienced riders like Shane Byrne later said he’d never known the Cheshire circuit to dry so quick, it was Richard Cooper who proved the master of the conditions and he led for almost the races entirety. He had to fight off a determined Christian Iddon, the new Championship leader, but ultimately he did just that to claim his maiden BSB victory.
The Nottinghamshire rider, winner of the 2011 National Superstock 1000cc Championship, came close to winning, again in the wet, at Brands Hatch last year, but his ride at Oulton was simply superb and has elevated him into the top six and one of the early season Showdown spots. It was also the team’s first win since 2014, when Ryuichi Kiyonari was victorious, and Cooper was quick to acknowledge the importance of the family-run team.
“Buildbase BMW is where I feel at home and this is something I have strived for since 2011,” he said afterwards. “I’ve got to thank them as they’ve been through it at times and they have fought their corner against some big teams and on the day we showed we are similar to them.”
“I knew there would be a day I could win on that bike and today we seized every opportunity. It is tricky early on in the race but I pushed on to give myself an early advantage and if anything I was a little bit too cautious when the rain came. But leading you are the first person into the flagged area where it is raining and then Christian Iddon took two seconds out of me and I panicked.
“But when he came past on the final lap with the intermediate tyre I thought that it was a bit odd, I thought we’d pulled away from those riders. I knew I was strong on the brakes and I knew Christian would go hard on the brakes into Lodge on the last lap, and I thought if he makes that then he can have it! He didn’t and I took the opportunity and the drag to the line felt pretty good.”
For Iddon, his first win will surely come. As Byrne and Michael Laverty found themselves down the field, the ex-Supermoto star reveled in the conditions and with four podiums from four races, he’s the early Championship leader and is racking up the podium credits.
“The championship lead and podium credits are more important than winning a race,” Iddon said. “I’m kicking myself for not winning the first one because I felt I had more chance in that. It is what it is but going home with 40 points when you could have easily gone home with zero in dodgy conditions. I’m very happy to stay on and get those points.”
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Leon Haslam got his season firmly up and running, overhauling JG Speedfit Kawasaki team-mate James Ellison before holding off Iddon to claim his first win of the season. And he backed this up with a good third place to close right in on Laverty and Byrne.
“With the set-up we chose [in race two] and the way it worked out it was the maximum we could produce,” Haslam said. “I felt in race one I could have pushed on harder but then I could have pushed into a mistake. In race two, I couldn’t have done any more than third. The boys in front produced too much of a gap at the start so I couldn’t bridge that gap and when we got some trickles of rain at the end it gave them more confidence than me on the slick tyres.”
Championship points after Oulton Park:
|1||24||CHRISTIAN IDDON||TYCO BMW||72|
|2||67||SHANE BYRNE||BE WISER DUCATI||58|
|3||7||MICHAEL LAVERTY||TYCO BMW||56|
|4||91||LEON HASLAM||JG SPEEDFIT KAWASAKI||36|
|5||22||JASON O’HALLORAN||HONDA RACING||36|
|6||47||RICHARD COOPER||BUILDBASE BMW||41|
|7||77||JAMES ELLISON||JG SPEEDFIT KAWASAKI||40|
|8||60||PETER HICKMAN||JG SPEEDFIT KAWASAKI||33|
|9||14||LEE JACKSON||BUILDBASE BMW||22|
|10||12||LUKE MOSSEY||QUATTRO PLANT KAWASAKI||19|