Oulton BSB: Race one win for Ray as Mackenzie, O’Halloran crash| Phil Wain at Oulton Park | British Superbikes
Update: Hickman has been excluded from race one and given a three-place grid penalty for race two following his nerfing of O’Halloran
After dominating qualifying, Bradley Ray duly converted that form into a race win with a commanding victory on the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha in the opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Oulton Park.
Ray took the lead on lap two and was never headed, pulling away in the second half of the race to comfortably take the victory ahead of Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) and Leon Haslam (Vision Track Kawasaki).
But it was disaster for McAMS Yamaha with Jason O’Halloran, running in third, being clipped by Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) and crashing out spectacularly with two corners to go, two laps after reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie had crashed out of fifth.
O’Halloran led into Old Hall Corner to take the lead on the opening lap from Bridewell and Ray before Bridewell hit the front at Shell Oils Corner but Ray got by them both before the end of the lap and he led Bridewell, O’Halloran, Hickman, Haslam and Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) at the completion of the first 2.69 miles.
Second time around and Ray had extended his lead to 0.370s but Title Fighters Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing), Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) and Ray’s team-mate Kyle Ryde were all up against it, circulating in 10th-12th whilst Mackenzie and Skinner on the second FS-3 machine were just ahead of them in ninth and eighth respectively.
The front four soon began to edge away and at the start of lap four just over half a second covered Ray, Bridewell, O’Halloran and Hickman with fifth placed Haslam now a second further back as he fought off the close challenge of Buchan.
O’Halloran slipped up the inside of Bridewell at Old Hall at the start of lap six as the leading four riders continued to circulate nose to tall and all the time they were pulling away from the rest of the field with the chasing pack still led by Haslam and Buchan. Skinner, Mackenzie and Glenn Irwin had all moved up a spot though as Andrew Irwin began to fall back.
Lap seven saw Ray attempt to check out and his lead shot up to 0.651s and, spotting the danger, Bridewell immediately re-took O’Halloran to move back up to second as the race entered its second half.
However, Ray’s advantage increased to 1.4s next time around with another four tenths added on lap nine and it looked now that Bridewell, O’Halloran and Hickman were hoping for a finish of second place at best. Meanwhile, further back, Mackenzie was now in fifth having overhauled both Haslam and Buchan.
Ray’s lead was up to 3.1s with three laps to go but drama came on lap 12 when Mackenzie crashed out at Shell Oils, just as he was beginning to close the gap to fourth place Hickman. That promoted Haslam up to fifth with Glenn Irwin now sixth ahead of Buchan.
Ray was able to have a trouble-free run to the flag and he duly took his eighth win of the season by 2.7s, cruising across the line and although Bridewell took second, the final lap saw Hickman make contact with O’Halloran as he slid up the inside going into Druids with the latter crashing out spectacularly.
That allowed Haslam to take a surprise third with Hickman crossing the line in fourth ahead of Glenn Irwin and Buchan. The late drama allowed Jackson to come through to seventh with the top ten rounded out by Christian Iddon (Buildbase Suzuki), Skinner and Ryde.