For the first time in two years, the Bennetts British Superbike Championship returned to Cadwell Park for the popular ‘Party in the Park’. RICH Energy OMG Racing trio Brad Ray, Kyle Ryde, and Billy McConnell were keen to get going at the legendary Lincolnshire circuit. Not a place for the faint of heart, Cadwell provides fast sweeping bends, blind crests, elevation changes all around, and the world-famous Mountain section, more than enough to keep a rider occupied for the full lap.

The Bennetts British Superbike pair of Ray and Ryde took part in the 3-hour Official Test at the circuit on the Thursday night before the weekend’s action. For Nottinghamshire man, Kyle Ryde, it was his first experience of Cadwell Park on a superbike as he took his BMW M1000RR out onto a wet track, courtesy of a downpour immediately before the session got underway. Unfortunately for Ryde, a crash in the first session left the double British Champion with a fractured heel, precluding him from any further part in the weekend. For Brad Ray the test was less eventful, plenty of laps banked and useful information stored ahead of the weekend.

RICH Energy OMG Racing’s road and rally racing man, James Hillier, was at the circuit this weekend as son Monty was racing in the MiniGP series that supported the weekend, fortunately for the team he also had his leathers in his van, too! Despite not riding a big bike for two years and not racing at Cadwell Park for some eight years, Hillier accepted the offer to ride Ryde’s BMW for the weekend. Qualifying for the three races and bringing his machine home safely three times around Cadwell Park is a feat in itself and one the team is grateful for.

After the success of Donington Park, Brad Ray was hoping to carry that momentum to another track that has brought success for the Kent man over his Superbike career so far. P14 in Qualifying on Saturday wasn’t where Ray or the team hoped to be as Cadwell Park is often a difficult track to overtake on and subsequently getting a strong lap time for the following race can be a challenge. Race one later on Saturday afternoon proved to be exactly that as the former Red Bull Rookie tried all he could to make up ground throughout the race but had to settle for P13 at the flag.

Sunday brought two more chances to bank valuable points in the race for the Showdown places, decided after Silverstone in just two rounds time. A rocket start from P14 in the day’s first Bennetts British Superbike race threw Ray into the mix for the top ten. A battle with the Irwin brothers and Ryan Vickers showed Ray’s mettle as he got the better of Vickers and set about chasing the Ulster pair. Ultimately Ray ran out of laps, taking a creditable P8 place at the flag and dropping into the 1:26m bracket for the first time this weekend.

Between the two Sunday Superbike races, Aussie Billy McConnell started P3 and front row for the sole Pirelli National Superstock race of the weekend. Clouds were looming over the Lincolnshire landscape before the green flag dropped but conditions held to get the race underway. A great start for ‘Billby’ was almost rewarded with the lead into turn one before Honda’s Tom Neave squeezed the door shut on the run into the fast Coppice corner. As the pack shuffled into line, rain spots came, and eventually a brief shower passed over the circuit, bringing out the red flag.

The race was restarted in the positions as the red flag came out and another great start launched McConnell into the fray. A patient race unfolded as the former British Supersport champion bided his time, picking off a couple of riders ahead before hunting down the lead pair. Unfortunately for McConnell, the shortened race left him with plenty of speed but not enough time, settling for an excellent third at the flag.

The third and final BSB race gave Brad Ray an excellent opportunity to continue his progress and build on the earlier action. 9th on the grid courtesy of his Race 2 pace was the best opportunity to push further into the top ten. The further into the top ten a rider goes, the tighter the times get and the more difficult the passing opportunities. That was the story of race three as Ray tried all he could to get the better of reigning champions Brookes and Honda’s Glenn Irwin as the two used their Cadwell Park experience to its fullest to keep the hungry RICH Energy OMG racing man at bay. Dispensing with Vickers it was a battle Ray couldn’t win as the laps ticked down and the chequered flag waved.

Despite it not being the weekend the team hoped for losing Kyle to injury, having Billy McConnell on the podium again after a difficult couple of rounds, James Hillier joining at the last minute, and Brad Ray improving all weekend, there were positives all around.

All eyes now turn to Snetterton in Norfolk, 3rd-5th September, for Round 7 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.

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