Young gun Bradley Ray took a shock debut victory in the opening race of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, holding off reigning champion Shane Byrne and James Ellison at a chilly Donington Park.
Starting on the third row, Ray got a storming start to sit third behind early race leader James Ellison before making his move at Redgate on lap six.
Despite a few challenges from Ellison, Ray maintained a steady lead until the Anvil Hire Yamaha and champion Byrne, who had been as far back as ninth after a characteristically bad start, launched an attack on the final lap. However, even though he was out of the seat at the Foggy esses, Ray held his nerve to take his debut BSB win.
Byrne managed to get the better of Ellison to finish second while Dan Linfoot crossed the line fourth in a positive start to the year for Honda Racing.
Having qualified on the front row, Luke Mossey’s mojo was back as he took fifth for JG Speedfit Kawasaki, ahead of Glenn Irwin who crashed out heavily in Saturday’s opening free practice.
Jason O’Halloran was seventh after losing a number of places on the final lap ahead of the Smiths BMW of Peter Hickman.
Leon Haslam, who had fought at the front in the early laps, mysteriously dropped back towards the end of the race with suspected tyre problems to eventually finish ninth while Michael Laverty rounded out the top ten.
Early favourite Josh Brookes didn’t get off to the strongest of starts, crossing the line 12th for McAMS Yamaha.