Leon Haslam celebrated his first Bennetts British Superbike Championship title victory at Brands Hatch on Saturday afternoon, crossing the line in a safe sixth place to have the edge over Jake Dixon into tomorrow’s two races.
It was Glenn Irwin though who was victorious for the first time this season for Be Wiser Ducati, becoming the sixth different race winner of the year, with Dixon and Tarran Mackenzie completing the podium in the opening race to the triple-header weekend.
At the start of the race Glenn Irwin launched off the line to lead the pack into Paddock Hill Bend from Dixon and Mackenzie with Peter Hickman and Andrew Irwin in close contention. Superbike rookie Mackenzie had a big moment on the McAMS Yamaha on the third lap and that dropped him down the order.
On the fifth lap Richard Cooper and Tommy Bridewell crashed out unhurt at Druids, the pair had been running inside the top eight, with Jason O’Halloran crashing out a lap later at Graham Hill Bend.
Meanwhile at the front Andrew Irwin moved into second place on the seventh lap to put both of the Be Wiser Ducatis ahead of the chasing pack. Dixon wasn’t giving up without a fight though an he stalked the younger Irwin brother before making a decisive move with four laps to go.
Mackenzie then had Andrew Irwin in his sights too and he went for a dive down the inside at Surtees with two laps remaining to fire the McAMS Yamaha back into podium contention. At the front though Glenn Irwin had the edge to hold off Dixon and Mackenzie to the chequered flag as Andrew Irwin equalled his best finish of the season.
Glenn Irwin – Race Winner
“It was good to be on the front row after qualifying and we were feeling confident ahead of the race. I’ve been within half a second of a race win about six or seven times this year, so I said to the team it was now or never and everything fell into place. My timer on the dash wasn’t working so it was difficult to know what the gap was to the rider behind me, so I set quite a slow pace to begin with. I then saw Andrew’s pit board with ‘P2’ on it and I didn’t want him behind me as he’s pretty mad, but I knew with his lack of experience he’d be harder on the tyre than me so pushed hard in the final third of the race. It allowed me to pull away and it’s the best way to finish my time with the team as Paul Bird has given me so much over the last three years.”
Peter Hickman held on to fifth place for Smiths Racing BMW ahead of Haslam who had done enough to become British champion after a season that has seen him score 14 race wins and only failed to finish off the podium four times.
Haslam was ahead of 2015 title-winner Josh Brookes and James Ellison with Danny Buchan edging out Michael Laverty to complete the top ten.
Leon Haslam – 2018 Bennetts BSB champion
“It’s like a big weight’s been lifted off my shoulders. Honestly it was kind-of one of those races I knew I didn’t need to push on, I needed to stay out of trouble. I got really pushed out wide in turn two and then it was Cooper I think crashed out in front of me and I was just like ‘stay out of trouble, stay out of trouble’.
“I saw Jake wasn’t leading so I knew top seven was good enough and I was running in sixth with a big gap. I wanted to have a go at Hicky and Tarran to try and get on that podium but I just didn’t want to risk it.
“After the last few years, I just wanted to bring it home and tomorrow I can enjoy now. I can go out and have a bit of fun. That last lap felt like an eternity, it was a long old race! It’s been one of those years, it’s gone so well and I’m so grateful to everyone around me.”
Jack Kennedy secured the 2018 Dickies British Supersport title in the opening race at Brands Hatch as title rival Ben Currie given a ride through penalty.
It was Kennedy who grabbed the holeshot, leading the way at the end of the opening lap by 0.2s ahead of Currie with Seeley a further half second behind in third. Wasting no time to move forward, Seeley was up to second by lap two however as they crossed the line at the start of lap four the red flag came out to stop the race.
On the restart, Kennedy was able to lead at the end of the opening lap whilst title rival Currie was given a ride through penalty for jumping the start. With Currie out of the leading pack, it became a two way battle between Kennedy and Seeley; with each rider separated by less than 0.1s at the end of the opening lap.
Coming down to the final lap, Kennedy was able to hold off a last lap challenge from Seeley to take the win and the Championship title.
Dickies British Supersport Championship
Brands Hatch, Sprint race
Jack Kennedy (Integro Yamaha)
Alastair Seeley (EHA Racing) + 0.090
Jamie Perrin (Go Racing Developments Yamaha) +2.258
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