2003 has seen some of the best British Supersport racing ever and it doesn't come any more exciting than last weekend's round at Oulton Park.

Padgett's team riders John Crockford and Adrian Coates played starring roles in a race that had the crowds on tenterhooks as the riders fought for a place on the podium.

Starting from 6th and 7th positions on the grid, both riders were established in the top eight when the safety car was called into action on lap 5 as a result of a nasty tumble for Jamie Robinson.

When the race resumed on lap eight, leader Karl Harris and pole-man Stuart Easton managed to break away leaving the rest of the field to battle for the remaining podium place. And what a battle it proved to be with a group of seven riders constantly changing positions as they fought to find an advantage around the twisty Cheshire circuit.

Ulsterman Coates had commentator Keith Huewen singing his praises as he fought his way to fourth place and set off after Rob Frost's Kawasaki, meanwhile Crockford had passed Dean Thomas to claim seventh place and was clearly determined to join his team-mate in the fight for third.

One lap later and Southampton based Crockford had despatched Tom Sykes for sixth, finding himself right behind Coates who had caught the kerb entering the newly named Hizzy's chicane, allowing Michael Laverty to relieve him of fourth place.
Riding at his forceful best, Crockford's commitment could be measured by the amount of air under his rear tyre as he buried the front-end of his Honda CBR600RR in the tarmac at every braking point around the circuit.

The defining moment came for the Padgett's pair on lap eleven when Crockford managed to stay off the brakes just long enough to pass Coates entering Hizzy's but then both riders ran out of road and found themselves on the grass.

Crockford used all his motocross experience to keep the throttle pinned and quickly re-joined, losing only one place. Ulsterman Coates was not so lucky and re-joined at the back of the group in ninth place.

For the rest of the race Crockford repeatedly traded places (and sometimes paint) with Andrews, Sykes, Frost and Laverty as they fought for third place, meanwhile Coates busied himself making up lost ground until his foot slipped at Island bend sending him onto the grass for a second time.

Meanwhile, Crockford's final position was not decided until the run out of the last corner, the 2002 Superstock runner-up finally taking a well-earned 5th place.

"I was convinced I would be able finish in the top three, but after a race as fantastic as that I'm not going to complain," he smiled. "The bike and the Dunlop tyres were awesome. I can't wait for Cadwell in two weeks so we can do it all again!"

Despite being unhurt in his off, 2001 British 250 Champion Coates saw his race end when an ingested stone jammed the clutch mechanism.

"Whilst it was disappointing not to finish, I really enjoyed the race," he said. "We found a good set-up and the whole package was working well so I'm looking forward to Cadwell. I'm not going to let that Crockford character get so close to me next time though!"



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