Buildbase Suzuki team boss Stuart Hicken has applauded Bradley Ray’s “maturity” to see off his experienced Bennetts British Superbike Championship rivals for a first-ever series win at the 2018 opener at Donington Park.

Ray charged into a surprise early lead in the 2018 opening race before being gradually reeled in by both James Ellison and Shane Byrne on the final lap. But Ray held his nerve to keep both his experienced BSB rivals behind to clinch a maiden victory and take an early championship lead.

Ray’s Buildbase Suzuki team boss Hicken, who encouraged him to make the move up to BSB last year, says he was stunned by the 20-year-old’s performance and sees him as a future title fighter.

“I always expect good results from Brad and we had really good pace in qualifying,” Hicken said. “We were on provisional pole before sitting it out for the final four or five laps so we knew we had good pace.

“He showed a lot of maturity there to lead the race for a long while, I was very nervous for a while to say the least, but I’m over the moon for the lad as he is a massive talent and we hope we can take him a long way.

“We think he can win the championship and that is what we are here for. As a team we are the oldest in the paddock and haven’t won it yet but we keep getting close to it so to win it this year would be rather nice.”

Hawk Racing came close to claiming the BSB title in 2014 when Ryuichi Kiyonari was set for a title showdown against Shane Byrne but suffered a cruel broken collarbone during the last free practice session of the Brands Hatch finale.



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