Ellison wins after controversial finish
19 July 2009
James Ellison has won his second ViSK.com British Superbike race of the season in extraordinary circumstances after a shocking accident eight laps from the chequered flag eliminated the top six riders.
A thrilling four-way battle for the lead between Simon Andrews, Tommy Hill, Chris Walker and Josh Brookes came to a sudden conclusion when fourth place Brookes, whilst attempting to pass Walker at the hairpin, appeared to lose control of his bike and harpoon leader Andrews.
Kicking off a chain of events that would see Hill and Walker fall too, the following Karl Harris and John Laverty would also hit the deck as the red flag was shown.
As per regulations, those not moving will not be classified in the results, meaning Ellison, who was running seventh, was able to stay upright to inherit the win. Leon Camier, delayed in a first corner accident, came through to make it an Airwaves Yamaha 1-2, while Graeme Gowland was third to finish on the podium for the first time in his short BSB career.
Prior to those series of events, the race was shaping up to be arguably the most competitive of the season, aided by the fact that Camier – winner of the last six races – found himself down in 23rd position at the end of the opening lap when he was caught up in an accident with headline-grabbing Cup rider Richard Cooper.
Having made a good start from the front row, unlike Camier, Cooper entered the first chicane in third place, but was caught up in the melee as riders attempted to go other side of him. Caught up in contact with Harris, the impact damaged his bike and forced him to come down in front of the chasing pack. With Camier immediately following, the championship leader had to wait for the majority of the field to pass before he could navigate his way around.
Instead, Chris Walker led as they came round to the start-finish straight, the Motorpoint/Henderson Yamaha having produced one of his trademark good starts to lead from the opening bend. He led Hill, Andrews, Harris, Stuart Easton and Laverty.
With rain threatening in the murky skies above, occasional droplets appeared to spook some of the riders as they began to spread out, including Walker, who, having established a gap initially, found himself down to second when Andrews – who had passed Hill at the hairpin on lap three – swept through on the MSS Colchester Kawasaki.
The first time Andrews has ever led a BSB race, he wasted no time in asserting his authority on the competition as he attempted to scamper away, leaving Walker to deal with the attentions of Hill. Although Hill did get past almost straight away at Edwina's, Walker struck back again to hold second for most of the coming laps.
Further back, Airwaves Yamaha, at this point, were having a difficult race, with Camier still outside the top ten and Ellison, struggling with illness, making steady progress from tenth having suffered a bad start.
By contrast, Brookes was making headway through the field having started a lowly 17th. Up to sixth by lap nine when he overtook Laverty, the Australian was soon up to fourth when he passed Harris having already seen Easton forced into retirement with a suspected oil leak.
With a substantial gap to make up on the leaders still, Brookes' cause was aided by the fact Andrews was slipping back into the clutches of Walker, who in turn was pulling Hill along too, the trio separated by no more than half a second as they stalked each other around the tight circuit.
Walker eventually made his move to reclaim the lead on lap 18 with a smart dive down the inside at the hairpin. However, a tardy exit out of the final corner gave Andrews and Hill a run at him down to the opening bend, the pair sweeping through and demoting Walker back to third.
By this point, they had been joined by Brookes, who was now the fastest man on the circuit and looking like a genuine threat to snatch victory with only a handful of laps remaining.
However, Walker was proving difficult for Brookes to dispatch of, the HM Plant Honda adopting unusual lines in his attempts to find a way through.
Nonetheless, Brookes lined up Walker for a pass at the tight hairpin, but was seemingly struggling to stop the bike before the bend, the Australian being catapulted from the machine and being flung directly into Andrews, two positions further up the road.
Bringing down Andrews, who was on course for a maiden BSB victory despite carrying a painful scaphoid injury, the confusion forced Hill and Walker directly behind to lay down their bikes too in avoidance of the carnage going on around them. When Harris and Laverty were forced to do the same thing, the red flag was immediately shown.
While it is yet to be determined if human or mechanical error was the cause of the accident, the incident, unsurprisingly, riled a number of team bosses in the pit lane, for whom it denied some breakthrough results.
Confusion subsequently followed with the results, with race director Stuart Higgs declaring that the classification comes as a result of a 'snap-shot' taken at the time of the red flag. It declares that any rider not upright is not included.
It meant that Ellison, who was the first of the riders to navigate his way around the carnage, was declared the winner, while Airwaves Yamaha were gifted a remarkable 1-2 with the recovering Camier catapulted from an expected eighth to second.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Gowland was a deserving podium winner in third place to bring some joy to the Henderson/Motorpoint team, the former World Supersport rider making it a Yamaha 1-2-3.
Just behind, Michael Rutter gave SMT Honda their best result of the season in fourth place, despite him also coming down at the same point as his rivals, while Julien Da Costa completed the top five for the devastated MSS Colchester Kawasaki team.
Cooper's early retirement gifted an easy Mirror.co.uk Cup win for Gary Mason, the Quay Garage Honda rider finishing sixth overall too, ahead of debutant Steve Brogan, up from 23rd on the grid, Ian Lowry, David Johnson and Tristan Palmer.