British Superbike race one got underway in Cadwell Park after a delay for rain. Fortunately, the precipitation ceased and we got underway in the dry, Leon Haslam making the holsehot from the middle of the front row, passing pole sitter Bradley Ray into turn one, whilst Jake Dixon held position in third place.
Largely, the positions remained unchanged in the first lap, but on lap two, Ray passed Haslam for the lead, and even began to pull away at the front. That was, until Chrissy Rouse fell at the Hall Bends, and had to be taken away in the ambulance. This saw a safety car period which took us up to lap nine, so we essentially had a ten-lap race to the flag.
Ray made a superb restart, and began stretching the pack again, initially only dragging Haslam with him. Eventually, Glenn Irwin and Dixon behind managed to match the leading pair, and came back into contention, as Tommy Bridewell found some pace too, setting what was at the time the fastest lap of the race.
Whilst Irwin was able to match the pace of the two leaders, he was unable to do anything about passing Haslam, and in fact he seemed to be slightly holding up Dixon behind, although the RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki was slightly slow in a straight line, so passing was tough for the number 27.
Finally, though, after a failed attempt two laps previous, Haslam passed Ray in Park corner on the third-last lap, and simultaneously Dixon slid through on Irwin.
Haslam’s pass was unintentional. It looked like a proper motocross block pass, standing the Suzuki rider up as he went through, but in reality Haslam’s Kawasaki had yet another with the engine blipping, so he ran on a little, passing Ray only to avoid hitting him. It certainly worked, although the time the pair lost in the move meant that the chasers, now led by Dixon, were right on the back of them again.
Dixon then tried to pass Ray in the first part of Charlie’s on the next lap, but got it wrong, ran wide and dropped back to fifth spot.
The next lap was a stunning recovery from Dixon, passing Bridewell in Park and then having a late lunge on Irwin in the hairpin to reclaim that final podium spot. As he mentioned after the race, there is little point for a person in Dixon’s position to finish fourth, because he needs podium points.
Whilst that was happening, though, Ray was unable to have a go at Haslam, who was strong on the brakes, and so Haslam took his eighth Cadwell Park win in the British Superbike Championship.
It was a superb ride from Haslam, riding around problems to take the victory. Also, his strongest point of the race was going to be at the end, as he had appeared to have next-to-no drop off on used tyres across this weekend, so the safety car did not really work to his favour. With that in mind, the field should be worried for the second outing.
Second place represented a solid return to the podium for Brad Ray, his first rostrum finish since race one at Brands Indy. He certainly seems to have gotten over his front end woes from earlier in the season, and should be consistently back in the frame for race wins in the next races.
Whilst the race win slipped away from Dixon, the sixteen points for third place were enough for him to secure his spot in the Showdown, meaning he can now focus 100% on podium points from this moment on.
Fourth place went to Glenn Irwin, who had enough to stick with the leaders, but just not enough to make a pass, and he was ahead of the Moto Rapido Ducati of Tommy Bridewell who was very impressive, as he continues his superb adaptation to the Panigale.
Christian Iddon took sixth place, ahead of Peter Hickman, who might have expected better from race one at what is one of his best circuits on the calendar, and where he took his first BSB win back in 2014. Perhaps the problems lie simply in the kidney infection he picked up in Thruxton, and is still affecting him this weekend.
Tarran Mackenzie had a strong ride for McAMS Yamaha in his first BSB race at Cadwell, finishing eighth, and as top Yamaha – the first R1 in a line of three with James Ellison and Josh Brookes directly behind the rookie. It was a disappointing race for Brookes, and his frustration was clear as he put a tough move on Jason O’Halloran at the Hall Bends, forcing his compatriot off the track, and costing the #22 another two positions. Anyway, a lot to improve upon for Brookes in race two.
Richard Cooper took eleventh place, ahead of a no doubt disappointed Luke Mossey who was twelfth. O’Halloran finally took thirteenth spot, ahead of Laverty who ran off track at Park and ended up fourteenth. Tom Neave took the final point, his first in BSB.
Gino Rea was sixteenth, ahead of Fraser Rogers, Sylvain Barrier, Shaun Winfield and Aaron Zanotti who was the final finisher in 20th.
Neither Mason Law, nor Andrew Irwin started the race. Law broke his thumb and damaged his neck in warm up, whilst Irwin suffered terminal engine issues on the sighting lap.
Martin Jessopp and Chrissy Rouse failed to finish. Rouse helped Jessopp off at the hairpin on the first lap, whilst the Suzuki rider went down alone later on, and brought out the safety car as he had to be taken to the medical centre via ambulance.
The only other retirement was Danny Buchan, who lost the front at the foot of the mountain on lap three.