With the sprint race won in dominant form with the time for a glance behind and coming out on top in a duel with fellow Yamaha rider Tarran Mackenzie already complete, Bradley Ray went on to his first ever hat-trick of wins in a race weekend with a third and final victory, despite being handed a two second penalty.
The race opened with defending champion Mackenzie in charge, securing pole after breaking the lap record in race two. Ray and Andy Irwin initially sat in behind.
The McAMS rider soon saw Ray put on a move for the lead, but he was able to hit the front again when the #28 ran wide on lap five at turn two, which Mackenzie described as feeling as if Ray was saying ‘can you come through’ - he held the lead when the safety car came out.
- 2022 British Superbikes Snetterton- Race Results (3)
- 2022 British Superbikes Snetterton- Race Results (2)
- 2022 British Superbikes Snetterton- Race Results (1)
With none of the riders were aware they had been penalised for not staying behind the safety car at the point of restart as Mackenzie looked to maximise his chances of staying ahead, Ray was able to pass quite quickly for the lead followed by Glenn Irwin who was now behind.
As the pair behind battled the #28 was able to extend his lead, crossing the line to still be judged 0.739s ahead after the two seconds were added.
The safety car was the game changer for Ray:
“The safety car came out, brought us all together and I looked behind and I saw Glenn was there, and Pete and Bridewell on the Ducati and I thought ‘right, we’ve got to try and get past (Mackenzie) and put the hammer down if I’m going to have a chance of winning this race’”.
His detemination paid off as his triple win, a first for both him and the Rich Energy OMG team, saw him extend his championship tally to a 61 point advantage over Jason O’Halloran who finished fifth completing a trying weekend for the Australian.
Ray also now holds the most podium points heading into the showdown with 61. O’Halloran has the second most on 48, with Mackenzie, in a more solid place than when he went on to win the title in 2021 having accrued the third most with 31 after missing the first few races of the season through injury. He lies sixth overall reflecting that.
‘This podium is a little bit by default’
After the penalty shuffle concluded it was Peter Hickman who was sat in second, he knew nothing of his podium and tried to return to the pits while Glenn Irwin rode down to parc ferme.
It was an eventful race for the BMW rider, having to make up time and position after managing not to fall when he hit the grass fast across a corner after an error on track.
“I actually had a really good race, I actually grass tracked … at 150 odd mph, which wasn’t great, managed to get back in the race after that and catch right back up right before the safety car came out.
I didn’t know the guys had a penalty either, so this podium is a little bit by default really because I was fourth on track - however - sometimes you’ve got to take it, with the luck that we’ve had this year and a tough season it’s great to give them a little bit of something back at the FHO Racing Team”.
‘My plan went completely out the window at that point!’
The safety cars deployment and exit changed the complexion of the final race. Initially out to allow Storm Stacey’s bike to be removed from the track, it’s appearance lead to the field closing in on each other as they formed up behind. With its exit came controversy and punishment as Mackenzie, then leading tried to get full advantage with a fast start behind it but was handed a two second penalty for passing too soon, as did both Ray and Glenn Irwin, who were next in line.
“My plan went completely out of the window at that point! I kind of was saving my tyre to go for those last few laps and after the safety car, I didn’t have the same tyre really, I don’t think anyone did.
I made a mistake into turn one and lost the tow to Bradley”.
Unaware as the penalty wasn’t issued until the final moments of the race, the defending champion immediate offered his apologies to Glenn Irwin for the safety car incident as he was most affected, missing out on a podium finish.
After the race, Mackenzie was also handed two penalty points on his record as a further punishment for instigating the move.
Where does that leave the Championship standings ahead of the Showdown?
As stated, Ray completed his portion of the season with 447 points and also leads the way on podium points, with 61.
Despite a lacklustre weekend Jason O’Halloran, the first rider confirmed for the Showdown, moved onto 381 points, but no further podium action sees his podium points tally stuck at 48.
Lee Jackson also struggled relatively compared to his earlier run of form, but remains fourth overall, with 249 points but just 14 podium points made.
Glenn Irwin passed the mainly absent Rory Skinner for fifth overall (247 and 16 podium points) while the Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki rider took time to recover from his qualifying fall (246 points and 9 podium Points).
With all the Showdown spots decided after race two Mackenzie sits sixth with 242 points and 31 podium points, quite a strong tally after missing so much of the start of the season and returning not at full health.
Tommy Bridewell moves onto the final three rounds with 226 points and just 8 podium points, with Kyle Ryde performing when it mattered most at Snetterton to ensure he could still battle for the crown. He holds 212 points and 13 podium points.