In a season where the achievement bar has been set at its highest, the Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha pair of Kyle Ryde and Brad Ray came away from Oulton Park with a sense of frustration about what might have been after a difficult Bennetts British Superbike Championship Sunday in Cheshire. An innocent party in another rider’s crash, Kyle Ryde and his crew were left with a mountain to climb while an issue with the rear tyre of Brad Ray’s Yamaha R1 left him fighting to stay on the podium in both Sunday races.
Saturday was a strong day for the team in beautiful early Autumn conditions as Kent’s Brad Ray scorched to Pole Position with the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of Oulton Park. An out lap, a stunning fast lap and an in lap were all that was needed for Ray in the 12-minute session. Kyle Ryde put in a strong performance in qualifying, his 12th place at the end of the session belied the gap to the front row with the Nottinghamshire rider just 0.3 seconds shy of the third fastest time.
The eBay Sprint race kicked off the Showdown phase of the championship and it was an Oulton Park masterclass from the championship leader as Brad Ray stormed to his eighth BSB win of the season and his fourth in a row. Teammate Kyle Ryde dug deep and fought his way up to ninth at the flag at what he admits is one of his least favoured circuits.
Sunday witnessed one of the most chaotic days of the season so far as red flag incidents dominated the opening superbike race. The original start saw Ray settle into a comfortable lead with Ryde making a characteristic strong launch off the line to catapult himself into the midst of podium battle before a crash for McAMS Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie brought out the first red flag to allow the reigning British Superbike champion to receive trackside medical attention for what was later confirmed as a fractured femur.
A quick restart again saw Ray launch into the lead, chased by Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki man Rory Skinner, Buildbase Suzuki’s Christian Iddon and Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin. As the race was settling into its early laps, Skinner caught the back of Iddon’s machine on the entry to Britten’s chicane and in the ensuing melee, Iddon’s riderless Suzuki hit the rear of Kyle Ryde’s Yamaha R1 causing him to crash out of the race, thankfully uninjured. The incident unfortunately again required trackside medical assistance this time for both Skinner and Iddon.
In an incredible display of teamwork, the RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha team pulled together to fix Ryde’s machine in the short 20-minute window. Technicians from both sides of the garage all played their part in getting the Yamaha R1 race-ready and with just 30 seconds to spare, Ryde rolled down pit lane to take his place at the back of the grid. As the race restarted for the third time, Ray got off to another flyer only to lose rear grip early in the race, settling for third place at the chequered flag while Ryde sadly high-sided out of the race early on lap one.
Race three rounded off a rollercoaster weekend for the team, thankfully passing without incident. Another stunning job from Kyle Ryde’s crew saw the former 125cc British Champion take his place on the grid in 21st place with Ray on the front row in 3rd. An incredible start from both riders saw Ryde make up three places out of turn one and Ray slide through into the lead later in the lap. Ryde’s forward momentum took him to an exceptional 9th place at the flag whereas frustration returned for Brad Ray as the race two issues resurfaced, coming home in a disappointing fifth place but comfortably retaining his championship lead.
Brad Ray: “Overall it was a positive weekend, we came here with a thirteen-point lead and we leave with a forty-point lead but not ideal losing so many points to Tommy Bridewell, especially in race three. It was a shame earlier with the two restarts, we had the win in the bag but we’ve no idea what happened with the tyre for the third restart, it left me with nothing to give for the win so that was a bit of a shame but overall, the positives are there, also we’re back safe and best wishes to Jason, Taz, Christian and Rory.”
Kyle Ryde: “It’s been a strange weekend, nothing that happened has been my fault but that’s racing. With everyone that’s crashed today, I’m one of the lucky ones that didn’t get injured. I’m really happy with the boys getting the Yamaha R1 ready again and feeling like brand new. It wasn’t easy to come from twenty-first on the grid in race three but to salvage six points is a big achievement and I’ll remember that one for a while.”
Paul Curran, Team Principal: “It feels strange to come away feeling a little bit frustrated with the weekend but that’s a marker of the expectation we have as a team. Saturday was a stunning display by Brad and Kyle showed just how much he’s improved around Oulton Park. Sunday was a really unusual day with the two red flags but I’m incredibly proud of the team for getting Kyle back out in the way they did. Although the third restart didn’t go the way we hoped for both riders, race three showed Brad and Kyle’s determination to make the best out of two very different situations. Best wishes to the injured riders, we’d certainly rather they were in the title fight with us, but now we move to Donington Park next weekend and look to keep that momentum rolling.”