Leon Haslam signed off his title-winning 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign with a victory on the final day of action at Brands Hatch, winning the second action-packed race of the weekend before Richard Cooper became the seventh different race winner of the year in the finale.
Haslam claimed 15 race wins on his way to lifting his first British title crown in a season where 15 different riders finished on the podium, representing all six manufacturers.
The opening race of the day saw the ‘Pocket Rocket’ claim his first Kawasaki victory on the Grand Prix circuit, holding off Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran after an incredible race-long dog fight for the win with the lead changing over 20 times!
At the start of the race Andrew Irwin launched into the lead ahead of O’Halloran and Haslam, as Danny Buchan crashed out unhurt on the opening lap.
The Honda Racing contender had fired into the lead at Stirlings and despite Haslam getting alongside he couldn’t make it stick. As the pack streamed across the line for the first time Haslam went for a move into Paddock Hill Bend on Andrew Irwin, pushing the Be Wiser Ducati back into second, but as they reached Druids for the first time he was back ahead.
On the third lap Andrew Irwin slid out of contention at Graham Hill Bend and at the front O’Halloran was coming under pressure from Haslam, who grabbed the lead into Paddock Hill Bend on lap five.
Meanwhile Bridewell and O’Halloran then traded blows for second, switching positions three times within as many corners.
By the sixth lap Bridewell was at the front; forcing his way ahead of Haslam with O’Halloran in third and Jake Dixon and a still injured Christian Iddon giving chase. Haslam made several attempts to make a move back ahead of the Moto Rapido Ducati, but he couldn’t make it stick until he made a slick move at Dingle Dell on lap eight.
Haslam was then trying to make a break but Bridewell and O’Halloran were desperately trying to get back to the front; the Australian moved into second with a move on the ninth lap before grabbing the lead at Druids. A lap later and it was Haslam back out in the lead of the race and on lap 11 the pair diced with the lead changing three times.
O’Halloran was then holding the advantage as James Ellison had joined the leading pack, but he later crashed the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend. Meanwhile Dixon had gone for a big pass to take the lead but the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki rider crashed a lap later with a high-speed off at Clearways.
That put O’Halloran back in the lead, but on lap 16 Haslam made another move into Paddock Hill Bend to take the advantage, but as the pair hit Stirlings the Honda rider was back ahead. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki contender waited for another lap before he was back in charge, before he managed to edge a minor advantage to the chequered flag over the final three laps.
The battle was then between O’Halloran and Bridewell for the final podium places and the pair scrapped until the finish line with the Moto Rapido Ducati rider eventually getting the better of his Australian rival to score his best finish of the season.
Richard Cooper claimed his strongest result of the season in fourth as he overhauled Iddon with three laps to go with Peter Hickman completing the top six. Glenn Irwin, Bradley Ray and Josh Brookes held on to finish inside the top ten with Josh Elliot rewarding OMG Suzuki with tenth place in only his second round with the team in the Superbike class.
Then in the final race of the season Richard Cooper became the seventh and final race winner of the season, dominating the final race of the year, winning by 7.493s Cooper led the race from start to finish and controlled the race from the front to score Buildbase Suzuki their third victory of the season.
On the opening lap Cooper led O’Halloran, Haslam in a special edition livery and Bridewell. Haslam was fighting but he had some huge moments to save, including an incredible moment on the exit of Graham Hill Bend and Clearways, but despite dropping him to fifth, he regained his composure to fight back.
Haslam had Iddon ahead of him and after getting back into a rhythm he made a pass at Paddock Hill Bend on the ninth lap, followed by Dixon a few corners later. Cooper and Bridewell were heading the field but by lap ten Haslam was into third as he dived down the inside of O’Halloran.
Dixon was then hunting O’Halloran and he moved into fourth with a move at Graham Hill Bend, with Iddon also pushing the Australian back a further place. Haslam was gaining momentum but on lap 12 he was on the brink of disaster with a massive moment on the run to Graham Hill Bend, which he only just managed to save.
As Cooper held the position at the front Bridewell was still leading Dixon, Haslam and Iddon, but Josh Brookes was closing and he moved ahead of Haslam on the final lap to claim fifth. Gino Rea equalled his season best result to finish in seventh ahead of O’Halloran, Peter Hickman and team-mate Sylvain Barrier.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race two result:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Tommy Bridewell (Moto Rapido Ducati) +2.027s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +3.287s
- Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) +8.784s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +11.976s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +22.473s
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +32.279s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +43.454s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +44.435s
- Josh Elliot (OMG Suzuki) +45.322s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race three result:
- Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki)
- Tommy Bridewell (Moto Rapido Ducati) +7.493s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +12.112s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +19.009s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +19.602s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +20.937s
- Gino Rea (OMG Suzuki) +24.906s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +38.703s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +52.282s
- Sylvain Barrier (Smiths Racing BMW) +1:01.070s
2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 699
- Jake Dixon RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 629
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 588
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) 584
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 577
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) 551
For more information visit www.britishsuperbike.com
(JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
2018 Bennetts BSB champion
“I’m just happy to have stopped on the bike in that last race, I had so many big moments! It’s been an awesome year, to finish every single race, 15 wins, such amazing battles with Jake [Dixon], with Glenn [Irwin], with Jason [O’Halloran], so many people in the mix on any given weekend, and that is BSB.
“We have had some great races and there are always good last-lap battles. For me it’s big thanks to the team.
“My second year with the same team has really shown credit, getting the most out of the bike, understanding the bike and just really, really enjoying it. Like I say, it’s a credit to them to get the results that we got.”
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