THIS WEEKEND SAW THE RETURN OF KYLE RYDE AND BRAD RAY EDGE CLOSER TO THE FINAL SHOWDOWN POSITION
Round 7 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship took place at Snetterton last weekend and the RICH Energy OMG Racing team were buoyed by the early news that Kyle Ryde was passed fit to race in Norfolk. A fracture of the heel during testing at Cadwell Park had kept the double British Champion man out of the Lincolnshire round but worked hard in the run-up to Snetterton to make it onto the grid alongside teammate, Bradley Ray.
During Free Practice it was clear to see that ‘youth’ was still in some considerable discomfort but Ryde’s determination pushed him through the pain barrier. After making progress at the previous round, Brad Ray arrived at Snetterton looking to build on that as the race for the last showdown place enters its final stages. Posting 11th and 21st fastest respectively in FP1 and 8th and 24th in FP2 it was clear that Brad Ray could be battling for top ten positions across the three races while Kyle concentrated on getting faster and more confident.
In FP3, Ray was 7th fastest with Ryde 20th, confirming the pace from Friday with both riders looking forward to Qualifying. Unfortunately for Brad Ray, qualifying didn’t work out how he or the team planned as after making it through to Q2, a missed gear on his first flying run and then a small crash on his last flying lap left the former Red Bull Rookie languishing in 18th place. For Kyle, it was a case of making a few small changes to the BMW M1000RR and securing the best grid slot possible for race 1 later on Saturday afternoon, posting the 19th fastest time.
Race 1 on Saturday saw both riders get away well with Brad Ray making up ground in the early laps to make a challenge for the top ten. Kyle dropped back in the early stages of the race but clawed his position back to end the race 19th while Brad picked up valuable points with an impressive race to 9th place at the flag. Saturday also saw Qualifying take place for the Pirelli National Superstock race where Billy McConnell continued with his impressive form to put his machine on the front row for Sunday’s race with the 3rd fastest time of the session.
Bennetts British Superbike race 2 on Sunday lunchtime saw Kyle sit P23 on the grid and Brad in a strong P8 for the 16-lap shootout. Kyle got a good launch into the pack and, finally finding a good feeling with the bike, began to pick off the riders ahead of him while Brad struggled to match the pace of his rivals. As the race unfolded the two RICH Energy OMG Racing riders were almost line astern but as the chequered flag dropped it was a tough P12 for Ray and an unexpected but welcome point in 15th for Ryde.
Billy McConnell put in another impressive performance in front of a huge Norfolk crowd between the two Superbike races as the National Superstock field took to the grid. A typically bullish start from the Aussie saw him hold his position through the opening turns before Mackenzie nipped through for third. McConnell tried every which way to get back at Mackenzie but with championship points in mind, the Aussie worked hard to take the extra four points but to no avail. Back-to-back podiums for McConnell have thrust him back into the championship hunt and into 2nd place, 24 points behind the leader.
Race three for Ryde and Ray was an interrupted affair as the original race was red-flagged after a mechanical issue caused Danny Buchan to crash and saw several others slip off in the aftermath, bringing proceedings to a temporary halt. The restart promoted Brad to 7th on the grid and Kyle to 13th for the five-lap dash to the flag. Ryde put in the performance of his weekend to take 10th place while Brad unfortunately didn't have the pace of the riders ahead, taking the flag in 9th, just ahead of his teammate, banking valuable points in the process.
After the final race, Team Principal Paul Curran said, “It hasn’t been an easy weekend on either side of the garage for different reasons. We were delighted that Kyle was passed fit to ride on Friday morning as he’s worked really hard to get as fit as possible since the injury so to see him back gave the team a real lift. The results weren’t what we were all hoping for at the start of the weekend; qualifying didn’t go to plan for Brad which hampered his progress, unfortunately but he worked hard to get the best results he could in all three races. We have found a direction to go with the bike for him and we’re looking forward to exploring that more next weekend at Silverstone.
For Kyle to race competitively let alone bring home points was a testament to his determination. The set-up wasn’t quite there for him on Saturday but changes overnight led to a better feeling with the bike that helped him bring home two excellent results.
As for Billy, he’s really found his groove again and back-to-back podiums are a big confidence boost to him after a couple of difficult rounds before that. His pace was strong all weekend and it was a shame he just couldn’t take the 2nd position that he tried so hard for but still banked sixteen valuable points in the championship chase.
Silverstone holds happy memories for the team and we’re looking forward to getting down there and seeing strong performances from all three riders.”