Team Suzuki Press Office – May 7.
Bradley Ray – 4-7th
Richard Cooper – 10-9th
Billy McConnell – 5th
It was a weekend which yielded solid points-scoring results for Buildbase Suzuki at Oulton Park and round three of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with Bradley Ray taking fourth and seventh placed finishes while Richard Cooper took two top 10s aboard the new GSX-R1000 Superbike.
Ray started from the third row of the grid after a crash in the final qualifying session on Sunday but made a strong start in race one to get away with the leading group. He was in podium contention until the closing stages but was pushed back to fourth.
Starting from the second row in race two, he was again in podium contention, but dropped back to seventh after struggling with tyre wear in the warmer conditions.
Cooper progressed from an admittedly disappointing 14th grid spot after strong pace in practice to get into the top-10 in race one. He finished in 10th, before taking a ninth in race two after some thrilling on-track action. The team also made a big step with the bike’s setup for race two that allowed him to improve his race pace further and close the gap to the front. The aim is to also improve qualifying performance to allow him to get away further up the field in the races.
“We said after Donington we won’t win them all, and it’s easy to forget we’re only three rounds in. We were just missing a little bit today with our setup that meant we didn’t have the final few tenths-a-lap needed to fight for the win. But the results were strong results and gave us some good points. The team also tried some bits this weekend that have given us a focus for the next test. But all-in-all it was a solid outing and we’ll look to improve when we’re back after the break.”
“Ninth and a 10th doesn’t sound that great, but the company you’re in is tough and the battles are hard. We’ve had two top 10s and we’ve beaten people this weekend that have already been on the podium this season, so it shows how tough it is out there. But I’m really happy with the performance and improvements we’ve made. We were changing some things all weekend but for warm up went to the softer front tyre. We didn’t use it for race one but went back to it for race two – along with some other changes – and we improved our race pace by seven seconds and closed the gap to the front. So I’m really happy. One area we do need to improve is qualifying. I’ve been 14th two rounds in a row but then able to race inside the top-10, so if we can improve there and start further up the grid, hopefully we can latch onto the front-runners a bit more next time round.”
Billy McConnell retained his lead in the National Superstock 1000 championship, after carving through the field from his fifth-row grid spot to claim fifth at the chequered flag. McConnell had been quick all weekend, but was unfortunate to crash while on a hot-lap in qualifying which left him down the field. Despite getting boxed-in off the start, he still added a number of championship points to his season’s tally.
“Honestly, I think we had the pace to battle for the win again this weekend, but it was my own fault that we couldn’t. I just missed my braking marker for the chicane while on a really good lap, and I probably should have abandoned the lap and gone again but I tried to make it fit and just tucked the front. It left me 13th on the grid and I was then boxed-in off the start. We got up to fifth and just kind of thought about it and took the points today. But it’s a shame as the bike was again working really well and I’m just in such a good place with my riding and with the team. Everything’s really clicked and the bike’s spot on. We’re still leading the championship and will go again next time.”
Steve Hicken – Team Manager:
“Consistency is what makes a championship and is what gets you into the Showdown. Both Brad and Richard rode 100% in both races, we just didn’t quite nail the setup for the conditions this weekend. We also made a big step with Cooper’s bike for race two which will help both guys going forward and has given some bits to try at the next test. After the start to the season we had this weekend seems more disappointing than it should. But you can’t win every weekend, so we’ll take the points, take what we’ve learned, and move onto the next one. There’s a long way to go yet.
“With Billy in Superstock 1000 it was little bit a case of what could have been, but it’s one of them things; it was a little mistake in qualifying that’s had a knock-on effect. However, we’re still leading the championship and the bike’s on the money. We’re confident we’ll get back into podium form and hopefully add more wins to the board next time.”
Superbike race one result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Jake Dixon, 3. Shane Byrne, 4. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000), 10. Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superbike race two result: 1. Leon Haslam, 2. Jason O’Halloran, 3. Jake Dixon, 7. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000), 9. Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superstock 1000 race result: 1. Keith Farmer, 2. Joe Collier, 3. Chrissy Rouse, 5. Billy McConnell (Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000).