Ray upstages favourites to record his first Suzuki success
The British Superbike Championships got off to a flying start yesterday at a cold Donington Park with the opening race brought forward a day because of a poor weather forecast.
Bradley Ray upstaged the favourites for his first victory on the Buildbase Suzuki in the 18-lap race, fending off a last lap charge from defending champion Shayne Byrne and James Ellison.
Glenn Irwin, with a last lap push, took sixth, while Michael Laverty was best of the Tyco BMW team in 10th, Carl Phillips 24th and William Dunlop 27th.
The 20-year old Ray took the lead on the sixth lap from Ellison with Byrne back in ninth after a poor start from the front row.
On the final lap Ellison closed right up on Ray, but at Melbourne Loop Byrne went under Ellison forcing him wide and Ray was able to hang on and win by 0.383ses from Byrne, who was 0.338sec clear of Ellison.
Irwin's sixth was as good as he could hope for having crashed in free practice on Friday and hospitalised with a sore neck.
The two-part Superstock 1000cc openers saw Australian Billy McConnell win both with Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW) and Josh Elliott (Morello Kawasaki) joining him on the podium, while Alastair Seely (Kawasaki) was fifth in both races.
The first 13-lap race saw Andy Reid (EHA Aprilia) dice with McConnell and Elliott for the lead until he crashed out on lap nine with McConnell, Elliott and Farmer 1-2-3.
Race two saw Elliott lead for two laps before McConnell moved ahead and Farmer pushed Elliott into third on the fifth circuit. The red flag came out on lap 11 with the result declared - a good day for the west of the Bann riders.
Pride of place on the opening day belonged to 20-year-old Eunan McGlinchey from Aghadowey, who clinched victory in the inaugural Dickie's British Junior Supersport race by a mere four thousandths of a second.
Jordan McCord, the 16-year-old Cookstown rider, finished a credible eighth.