Josh Brookes maintained his winning momentum at Oulton Park, claiming his seventh British Superbike Championship victory of the season in a dramatic opening race of the triple-header weekend.
There was drama for Honda Racing before the start of the race when Xavi Forés crashed out on the sighting lap to the grid; the Showdown hopeful returned to pitlane and the team turned him around in time to start from very back of the grid alongside teammate Andrew Irwin.
The race began with a sensational start from Bradley Ray who launched into the lead on the opening lap, but Brookes had moved ahead by the time the pack streamed down Lakeside for the first time.
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However a crash on the third lap involving David Allingham, Shaun Winfield and Andrew Irwin ruled the Honda Racing rider out of the race and the chance to score any points towards his Showdown bid.
A lap later and Peter Hickman was another rider fighting for a Showdown place to crash out of the race; the Smiths Racing BMW rider limped back to pitlane and then Dan Linfoot also crashed out in a separate incident and the race was red flagged.
The Smiths Racing BMW team rushed to turn around the damaged machine but Hickman was not able to make the restart. However, his bid for a Showdown place is still very much alive with just a single point between him and Andrew Irwin ahead of tomorrow’s two final races of the main season before the three Showdown rounds get underway.
On the restart Brookes got off to a lightning start from the front row and was ahead of Tommy Bridewell, Ray and Christian Iddon, who is also on a quest to secure a Showdown place for the first time. Jason O’Halloran though was fighting hard on the leading McAMS Yamaha and he made a move ahead of Iddon on lap two.
Bridewell then moved into the lead of the race on the fourth lap, but there was heartbreak for Oxford Racing Ducati when two laps later he was forced to retire with a technical problem as he aimed for the team’s first race win.
That put Brookes back in command at the front of the pack with Ray in hot pursuit with Buchan, O’Halloran and Iddon in the chasing pack with Scott Redding holding sixth place ahead of Tarran Mackenzie. By lap eight, Redding had made a move on Iddon to move up the order as O’Halloran had dropped back behind the Tyco BMW.
Redding was hounding Buchan and on lap 12 a moment for the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki rider gave his Be Wiser Ducati rival the invitation he needed to make a pass and move into third place with two laps remaining of the 14-lap restart.
Brookes held the lead at the chequered flag to extend his advantage over a confident Redding ahead of tomorrow’s two races, but there were big celebrations for Buildbase Suzuki and Ray who claimed their first podium finish of 2019 in second place ahead of Redding.
Buchan’s fourth place secured both his and the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki team’s first Showdown fight, holding off Iddon and O’Halloran. The result for Iddon in race one, and the disaster for Andrew Irwin and Hickman, has now put him to within ten points of sixth place in the standings.
Tarran Mackenzie was eighth in the opening race and has 13 points advantage over Andrew Irwin ahead of tomorrow’s two races.
Alex Olsen had an impressive debut for Smiths Racing BMW in ninth ahead of Ryan Vickers in tenth.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, Race 1 result:
Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati)
Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +4.960s
Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) +6.926s
Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +8.838s
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +9.356s
Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +15.306s
Glenn Irwin (Tyco BMW) +20.348s
Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +20.573s
Alex Olsen (Smiths Racing BMW) +22.317s
Ryan Vickers (RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki) +25.992s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings after Oulton Park Race 1:
Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) 296
Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) 275
Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) 243
Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) 204
Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) 159
Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing) 146
Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 145
Xavi Forés (Honda Racing) 141
Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) 136
*Riders in bold – confirmed in the 2019 Showdown