Robbie Brown tightened his grip on the Ducati 848 Challenge championship with a maximum points haul from both races at Misano World Circuit, Italy. A win in Race 1 and second behind non-points scoring rider Chris Northover, was enough to open up a 53-point lead at the top of the table.
With the round taking place during the famous World Ducati Week, which this year attracted a record crowd of 65,000, and in baking-hot 40 degree temperatures, the weekend was a proper test for the riders and teams. Guest rider Chris Northover (Superbike Magazine), whose last appearance in the series bagged him a win at a very wet Thruxton BSB last year, showed that despite not regularly racing this season, when reunited with the Ducati UK Tri Options Finance bike he could still put in a race-winning performance.
For many of the riders this was their first visit to Misano, so Friday free practice was more about working out the reverse-direction track than setting in good times. It was during the two Qualifying sessions on Saturday, the fastest time from either counting to the final grid, where we got to see some form. Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester) was fastest over the day, with Chris Northover (Ducati Tri Options Finance) and Darren Fry (Hirebase/JHP Racing) also putting in strong times. James Folkard (Minards Pavlou Solicitors Win43.com) and Mike Dawson (mdracing.co.uk) also made impressive times on their first visit to the circuit.
Race 1 saw Brown make a good start and he held his position into the first turn, setting himself up to remain at the front of the race for the full distance. Leaving the others to fight for positions behind him, he was able to lap consistently 0.5sec faster than Fry and Northover who battled for second, and Sam Coventry (Moto Rapido), Byron Beckett (SAS Racing), Dawson and Folkard for the remaining top five places.
At the chequered flag Brown had amassed a 5-second lead over Northover, taking the race win with something to spare. Northover took second in front of Fry, but in a tight finish behind the podium places the pack was joined by Aaron Brown (Team Penso Ducati) who made up four places in the final three laps to finish an impressive 8th.
With only two hours between races to cool down in the searing temperatures, the riders took to the grid again for Race 2. When the lights went out it was business as usual for Brown, Northover, and Fry who fought an extremely close opening few laps before Northover took the lead.
Northover finally broke free of Brown on lap 6 when he put in a new fastest lap of 1’43.9, opening up a 1-second gap heading into final three laps. Unable to respond, or perhaps knowing that as an invited rider Northover would not collect the winning points, Brown rode his own collected race. Now very much in his stride on the 848, Northover went even faster on the last lap to set a new Challenge lap record of 1’43.58, and taking the race win over Brown and Fry.
The two races also scored towards the factory-backed Ducati Desmo Challenge International Cup. With a win and a second apiece Brown and Northover shared the trophy, agreeing to split ownership of the cup in their own unique way. Sarah Jordan (Global Robots/Steve Jordan Motorcycles) also took to the podium to collect the International Ladies Cup for the best placed female rider over the weekend, just pipping Claire Myler (OHLINS@P&H Motorcycles) who was standing in for the absent Mike Edwards.
Robbie Brown, winner of Race 1 and joint-winner, DDC International Cup
“All weekend we felt we had the pace, and in Race 1 I wanted to prove that. I didn’t expect to pull the gap that I did, but felt comfortable. It would have been nice to have got both wins, and had Chris been taking points from me it may have been different. But I might also have ended up in the gravel because Chris was flying. I cannot wait for Oulton Park now.”
Chris Northover, winner of Race 2 and joint-winner, DDC International Cup
“It was great to be re-united with the Ducati I rode at Thruxton last year, and I got straight back on the pace - like I has never been off it! To take the win in the second race was a brilliant way to top off an awesome weekend; we had been chipping away at the lap times in every session, so to do our fastest lap on the last lap of the weekend was the best feeling. ”
Sarah Jordan, winner, DDC International Ladies Cup
“It was the most exciting weekend racing and also sharing the circuit with World Ducati Week. The bike was 100% perfect for me and it was great to be presented with the Ladies trophy. I’m now aiming for some Championship points at the next round at Oulton!”
Round Five of the Ducati 848 Challenge takes place at Oulton Park BSB over the weekend of 6/7/8 July.
Race 1 Result: R Brown – Northover* – Fry – Coventry – Beckett – Folkard – A Brown – Dawson – Keen – Smith – White – Adam – Coulter – Poole – Steve Jordan – Poyser – Compton – Holden – Hasler – Cope – Sarah Jordan – C Myler – Broadway
Race 2 Result: Northover* – R Brown – Fry – Folkard – Keen – A Brown – Beckett – Smith – Compton – Steve Jordan – Poole – Adam – Dawson – White – Coulter – Cope – Poyser – Hasler – Holden – Gibson – Sarah Jordan – C Myler – Broadway
* Non-points scoring rider
Championship Top Ten after Round Four, Misano
R Brown (164.5pts), Fry (111), Folkard (72.5), Beckett (60.5), Dawson (59), Coventry (58), Smith (54), Edwards (53.5), Compton (49), Keen (47)