Jake Dixon kicked off the Bennetts British Superbike Championship Showdown in style by celebrating a double victory at Oulton Park today (Sunday), taking a 14 point chunk out of Leon Haslam’s lead in the standings after mastering all conditions on the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki.
The Superbike race action began with drama on the grid in the opening race for Be Wiser Ducati contender Glenn Irwin as a problem on the grid meant a delayed start and he was forced to start from the back of the grid. He was in good company though as standings leader Haslam was also on the back row after his problem in qualifying yesterday.
As the race got underway Tommy Bridewell launched himself into the lead on the Moto Rapido Ducati ahead of Dixon and Bradley Ray in the wet conditions, but by the end of the opening lap Jason O’Halloran had pushed his way into third ahead of Buildbase Suzuki’s Showdown contender.
At the front Bridewell was holding the advantage despite the pressure from Dixon, but on lap eight he made a move on the inside into Old Hall to take the lead. Bridewell had attempted a strike back but Dixon was determined and he held him off to the finish as Moto Rapido Ducati and Bridewell celebrated their first podium finish of the season – the 14th different rider to feature in the top three this year.
Josh Brookes’ Showdown started with a disaster as he crashed out unhurt at Knickerbrook on the sixth lap with Luke Mossey also sliding out of contention five laps later at Shell on the second JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Ray was then another Showdown rider to drop down the order when he had a moment at Lodge on the eighth lap and he was forced to run on and rejoin in tenth place on the Buildbase Suzuki.
At the front Dixon and Bridewell had the advantage but O’Halloran was soon under fire for the final podium place as Haslam and Andrew Irwin were in close contention.
With two laps remaining Haslam made his move on his Honda Racing rival to move into a podium position, but O’Halloran was pushed further back on the final lap when both Andrew Irwin and Michael Laverty moved ahead.
Tarran Mackenzie claimed seventh place for McAMS Yamaha ahead of Peter Hickman, James Ellison and Dan Linfoot with Showdown contenders Ray and Glenn Irwin in eleventh and twelfth.
After a victory in race one Dixon grabbed the lead on the opening lap to lead O’Halloran, Laverty and Haslam at the start, but Bridewell was on the attack again and by the end of lap one he had moved into fourth with a move at Shell.
Laverty was showing promise on the Tyco BMW until he crashed out at Cascades on the fifth lap, ending his hunt for another top five finish.
At the front Dixon was edging ahead But Haslam was in close contention and he moved into second with a dive down the inside of O’Halloran at Lodge on the seventh lap as his RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki rival then became his target.
Honda Racing’s O’Halloran was then under attack from Bridewell and the Moto Rapido Ducati rider made a decisive pass at Shell, meanwhile Mackenzie was also making moves and leapt into fifth ahead of Mossey.
Ray was fighting for a top ten position on the Buildbase Suzuki but a crash at Old Hall on lap 12 ended his hopes of closing down in the points and he will head to Assen fifth in the standings. A lap later and O’Halloran slipped off in similar style to end his run for Honda Racing prematurely.
Dixon’s lead at the front was being closed down but Haslam couldn’t quite get within striking distance despite a sensational attempt to reel his rival back in over the closing stages of the race.
Bridewell and Moto Rapido Ducati celebrated a double podium finish ahead of Mackenzie and team-mate Brookes who recovered from his race one crash to claim fifth place ahead of Glenn Irwin and Mossey.
Hickman, Andrew Irwin and Ellison completed the top ten, with Brookes now holding equal third on points with Glenn Irwin and six points separating them from Ray and Hickman just four points adrift.