Jake Dixon has closed the gap in the championship after putting on a masterclass in the rain at Oulton Park, taking his second victory of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike season.
The RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki rider kept his cool after losing out to Tommy Bridewell on the opening lap of the race, battling back past his rival and eventually crossing the line over six seconds clear.
Bridewell remained in second to secure his first podium of the season. The duo were joined on the podium by series leader Leon Haslam, who comfortably fought his way through the field after being forced to start from the back of the grid – due to a mechanical issue in qualifying.
Andrew Irwin celebrated his best British Superbike result after taking fourth away from Jason O’Halloran on the final lap. The latter would also lose out to Michael Laverty at the final turn and had to settle for sixth.
Tarran Mackenzie had a relatively quiet race in seventh, with Peter Hickman crossing the line in eighth for the Smiths Racing BMW team. James Ellison and Dan Linfoot completed the top 10.
Showdown contender Josh Brookes crashed out of the race early on, whilst Glenn Irwin could only manage 12th after being forced to start from the back of the grid. Bradley Ray’s title hopes were also dealt a blow after he ran off the circuit and fell down the order to 11th.
The start of the race was delayed after Glenn Irwin appeared to stall on the grid. The Be Wiser Ducati rider was told that he had to return to pit lane and start the race from the back of the grid.
As a result of the delay, the race distance was reduced to 16 laps and the riders were able to complete two warm-up laps in order to adjust to the wet conditions.
When the race began, Bridewell made a great start, only to be covered off by Dixon going into turn one. A few corners later, Bridewell had made his move stick and was leading the race. Ray had also moved up into third, from seventh on the grid. By the end of the opening lap Haslam had already made his way through to 11th.
As the field settled into their rhythms in the opening stages, it was O’Halloran who made the next move – going down the inside of Ray for third. Haslam would then move into ninth at the start of lap three, going down the inside of Mackenzie at Old Hall Corner.
In front of them, Laverty made an audacious move down the inside of Brookes and Ray at Lodge, only to go wide and allow Brookes back past. On lap four, Haslam moved up to eighth, going past his teammate, Luke Mossey.
On the following lap, Andrew Irwin went into sixth at Lodge, going past Ray. A few moments later, Haslam would also get the better of the Buildbase Suzuki rider.
There was drama on lap six as Brookes crashed out of the race. The showdown contender would lose control of his Yamaha at Knickerbrook Corner, severely hampering his title challenge in the process.
Haslam made further progress on lap seven, getting the better of Laverty for fifth, before engaging in a multiple corner battle with Andrew Irwin for fourth. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki man would eventually make his move stick before the end of the lap.
Back at the front, Dixon had closed down Bridewell after posting three consecutive fastest laps. Dixon would take the lead going into Old Hall Corner on lap eight.
Another title contender, Ray, would suffer a set-back on the lap 10. The 21-year-old lost control of his Suzuki heading down into Lodge, running off the track and into the gravel. Fortunately, he was able to avoid dropping the bike and rejoined the circuit, albeit down in 10th.
Moments later, Mossey’s race came to a premature end as he crashed at Shell Oils. Shaun Winfield’s race also came to an end on the same lap, with the Anvil Hire TAG Racing rider falling hard at Brittens. Winfield appeared to be in some discomfort as he hobbled away from his bike.
As the race entered it’s final few laps, Haslam began to home-in on O’Halloran for the final podium spot. Further down the road, Dixon had now opened up a lead of over two seconds.
Haslam would eventually make his move on O’Halloran going into Lodge Corner on lap 14. Within a few corners, O’Halloran had Andrew Irwin all over the back of him. The young Northern Irishman looked quick, and, despite a few near misses, was able to take fourth away from O’Halloran on the final lap. O’Halloran’s pace would continue to decrease, with Laverty sneaking into fifth at the final corner.
Meanwhile, Dixon had already crossed the line to take his first victory since Knockhill. The 22-year-old has reduced Haslam’s championship lead to 36 points heading into the second race this afternoon.