Bradley Ray had done enough after race one to claim the 2022 trophy and it was just as well as his difficult weekend at Brands Hatch continued with a fall in race two and a cautious sixth in the final race.
Ray spoke of how glad he was to have gotten business done early and how his plans to relax and enjoy the final two races and finish the season on a high didn’t go as planned:
“After yesterday I just wanted to get wrapped up and get it done and relax and on Sunday I wanted to try and push and have a good couple of results. But I got a bit eager in race one and made a small mistake at turn one, I ended up upside down in the gravel, so, wasn’t ideal.
The boys got a whole new bike ready for race two and I wanted to bring it home for the boys.
- 2022 British Superbikes Brands Hatch- Race Results (3)
- 2022 British Superbikes Brands Hatch- Race Results (2)
- British Superbikes Brands Hatch: Win for Irwin not enough as Ray takes title
A little lost for words at his achievement yesterday Ray was more able to reflect on his new #1 plate with some time to let it sink in, saying:
“I knew that this would be my best chance to fight for the championship with Yamaha and Rich Energy OMG, so we just got our heads down and took everything in our stride. It allowed us to come to Brands with enough points to have a difficult round like we have!”
His home track may not have brought any rostrum visits - Brands Hatch is still the only round where Ray is yet to grace the podium, but there were plenty of highlights over the eleven race meetings:
“The first win on the Yamaha was special and doing the triple at Snetterton was something quite special, but honestly I think the biggest thing for me this year is keeping a cool head in all scenarios and all situations. It hasn’t been easy.
‘I believe I made a huge step in myself’
Glenn Irwin had the most to cheer at Brands Hatch as he almost repeated his epic season start - the triple at Silverstone. Ending his season with two wins saw him secure as runner up in the title hunt.
Irwin credited the work Honda did on the bike and his colleague Takumi Takahashi’s development of the swing arm to a place where he felt comfortable to use it too, but cited his own work on his shoulder injury as his season game-changer:
“I followed that up with some treatment on my shoulder, despite the surgery last year, it still never…was ‘right’. It really hindered me still on track - that was probably the biggest thing. The bike developed …but having that limitation- a major limitation -that I’ve had my whole career pretty much, from half way through the second year in Superbikes, we went to the physical tracks like Oulton - we could fight, we went to Donington, we could fight, we went here, we could fight, so the bike made a huge step but I believe I made a huge step in myself.’
On winning the final race Irwin was pleased but a little disappointed not to have bookended his season with two trebles:
“This weekend’s been great, I wanted three from three, I really wanted it after yesterday!”
Race two didn’t go the Northen Irish riders way, but he still managed a podium finish in third, it gave him a determination to finish the year in winning form, sizing up the weather as as bigger rival to his hopes as the racers on track:
“In that race things felt good immediately, I went into tyre saving mode but then I had to work hard - I knew the rain was going to come and that if it comes this time of year it is going to be greasy and they’ll stop it quite quick so, it wasn’t a panic but it was very clear target to get the lead.”
‘It’s good to go out on a high’
Peter Hickman was the best of the riders not in the Showdown so was awarded the Rider’s Cup for taking ninth ahead of Danny Buchan, who was ahead of him in the final race, third to his fifth.
He reflected adding:
“It’s a super strong end to the season for us, which is nice, it’s always nice to go out on a high. It’s been a tough year but ending up with the Rider’s Cup trophy, it’s good you know, the biggest achievement or biggest thing we can look at after not getting in the Showdown is to be top BMWcfor us which is what we managed to do so that’s really what the aim was after not making the Showdown”.
‘I feel exhausted to be honest!’
Tommy Bridewell did make the Showdown and finished third overall.The #46 was up against it for the runner-up spot in the championship after an issue with his Oxford Products Ducati saw him heaved off of the grid and start race two from pitlane. Arguably providing the race of the day he managed fifth in that race, then went one better to finish his final time on track this season fourth in race three.
The effort from race two had taken it’s toll on the usually chipper Bridewell:
“ I feel exhausted to be honest! All in all a great year. Difficult in some aspects as coming from last year finishing second, taking it to the wire with Tarran [Mackenzie] it was absolutely expected that we should be able to hit the ground running, come straight into the season to try for the championship, but, to be honest, this year was a steady start really -we had a different dynamic to the bike.
It took a while to get it back up to where I expect. Then we got the bike better and I was able to ne a lot more comfortable and fight stronger.
Finally, Bridewell took the time to focus on what makes BSB so special, it’s family-like, community atmosphere:
We’ve also lost some amazing characters along the way, with obviously losing Chrissy [Rouse] - we’re all a small, close community here so when we lose a rider like that it’s a big impact. Obviouly overseas riders have been lost, so we never take anything for granted”.