FOREIGN TURF FOR DUCATI UK RACING

Great racing for Ducati in the British Superbike Championship and the TriOptions 848 Challenge

Great racing for Ducati in the British Superbike Championship and the TriOptions 848 Challenge

Ducati riders this weekend made the most of the British Superbike Championship’s annual trip overseas to the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ – Assen in Holland. Matteo Baiocco put in one of his best performances of the season in the BSB class, and the TriOptions 848 Challenge provided some of the weekend’s most exciting racing.
The Rapido Sport Racing team invested in some of the latest performance parts for the 1199 Panigale Superbike in the build-up to this event with the aim of challenging in the points-scoring positions right from the off. The changes allowed Baiocco to start strongly ­– lapping in the top fifteen throughout the free practice sessions. The Italian improved his lap time from FP3 by over a second in qualifying to put the Ducati 15th on the grid for the first contest, and strong race pace allowed Baiocco to move forward to 13th spot as the chequered flag came out.
Starting from 18th on the grid for race two made the reigning Italian Superbike champion’s job harder, but Baiocco fought well aboard the striking red machine to make it up to 11th in the closing stages of the race. Setting his fastest laps of the weekend it looked as though the rider from Osimo would break into the top ten, but he was cruelly robbed of a great result by a technical problem, forcing him to retire just two laps from the finish line.
It was a welcome return to the top step of the rostrum for one of Ducati TriOptions 848 Challenge’s most popular figures – Mike ‘Spike’ Edwards – in the first race of the weekend on Saturday. The P&H Ohlins-backed rider led for almost the entire contest, although Rapido Sport Racing’s Ben Field briefly hit the front on lap ten. Edwards was quickly back past, and controlled the pace to hold on to the win by just over a tenth of a second from Leon Morris and Marty Nutt who both made their way by Field in the latter stages.
The second race on Sunday was equally enthralling, with a five-way scrap for the lead going right down to the final tour of the eight lap contest. Leon Morris led the way in the early running, but in a single move lost out to both Edwards and Jonathan Railton in the final complex. Railton found himself in the lead with three laps remaining, although Edwards was shadowing his every move. Behind the leading pair an intense scrap for third developed between Morris and championship contender Nutt, who through caution to the wind on the last lap to secure third. It may turn out to have been a crucial move, as Nutt’s closest rival Railton refused to be beaten by Edwards on the last lap, edging out the race one winner by 0.238s.
Jonathan Railton said: “The adrenaline is still pumping from that one! I missed a gear on the penultimate lap that let two of them past, but I wasn’t going to let it lose me the race. I really like Silverstone, and I’ve got to go there and win both races to be in with a shot of the championship – it’ll be up to Marty then to score enough points behind, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Steve Moore, team principal, Rapido Sport Racing said: We tried our best and the team worked really hard this weekend. Matteo was 13th in race one and went faster in race 2 and was battling in a group for 7th, but an annoying tiny oil leak caused a puff of smoke so the officials had no option but to stop him with 1 1/2 laps to go. I t was really bad luck but the lap times were good we were 1.5s faster than last year. So although the weekend didn’t go to plan, I think we can take some positives from the progress we made.
The British Superbike Championship battle resumes in two weeks’ time at Silverstone. The National Superstock 1000 Championship will re-join the action with Tristan Palmer hoping to add to his tally of podiums, while the TriOptions 848 Challenge reaches it’s climax with the final two races of the season to run around the legendary grand prix circuit.
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