Team Suzuki Press Office – May 7.
Richard Cooper – SST – 1st
Bradley Ray – BSB – 14-12th
Luke Stapleford – BSB – 19-16th
• Cooper extends championship lead with race win.
• Ray makes steady progress with setup.
• Stapleford races through pain barrier after qualifying crash.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Richard Cooper has extended his National Superstock 1000 series lead, following a faultless performance at Oulton Park for the second round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on Monday, that saw him take the race win from pole position.
Cooper recorded an exceptional lap time aboard his Superstock-spec GSX-R1000R in qualifying – a lap that would have put him 15th on the grid for the opening Superbike race – to storm to pole position. However, a drying track made for a tricky race, yet the former National Superstock 1000 champion used his experience to take another win and extend his points lead, ahead of his North West 200 debut next week.
“The conditions were a bit tricky, but honestly I don’t think they were that bad. I actually wanted to put a dry rear in, and I think we could have done so comfortably, but, with the championship in mind, we played it safe. I managed the tyres we went with and we picked up another win, but I was annoyed in the morning when I woke up to rain because we’d done all the work in practice in the dry, set the lap time we did which would have put us ninth in Q1 in BSB, and wanted to show what we could do as our pace was so strong. I was even frustrated we didn’t top every session. But that is a good place for us to be. The bike’s working well and the team have put a package together I have complete faith in. It’s the North West 200 next and I’m really excited. I’m going there with a different mindset to the Superstock Championship – I’m going to learn and build up to it, and if we work hard and come away with strong performances I’ll be happy.”
There was more progress for Bradley Ray in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. The Superbike race-winner has endured a tricky start to the year but is working hard with the team to improve the setup of his GSX-R1000R, making steps forward all the time. Changes to his suspension setup between races yielded sizeable improvements to his feeling on the bike. He finished 14th and 12th in the two races.
“It was another difficult weekend results-wise, and obviously that’s what we’re here for. But that said we’ve made some big steps. We made some significant changes to our suspension setup for race two; it gave me a much better feeling from the bike, and we went 10 seconds quicker over race distance. So, we’re making progress and are heading in a good direction. We’re still lacking a little bit of feeling and edge grip, but it’s a long season and we’re getting there.”
After a strong start to his maiden British Superbike season at Silverstone, where he finished 7th and 5th, Luke Stapleford had a weekend to forget at Oulton Park. The 2015 British Supersport Champion crashed heavily in qualifying and had to start from 25th on the grid. Riding through the pain barrier, he finished 19th and 16th.
“It wasn’t the ideal follow-up to Silverstone. We’d been struggling over the weekend, and in the same areas we knew we needed to work on – our edge grip on the rear and just the feeling and feedback from the bike – and our job got a lot harder after the crash in qualifying. It put us on the back foot for the races, starting as far down as we did, and I was struggling to ride comfortably after it. But it’s racing, it happens. The positives are, as a team, we’re working hard and with some changes to mine and Brad’s bike over the weekend we found improvements. We’ll keep plugging away and go again at Donington.”