Richard Cooper produced a wet weather masterclass to dominate the final race of the season at Brands Hatch.
The Buildbase Suzuki rider led from start to finish and crossed the line more than seven seconds clear of Tommy Bridewell. The runner-up’s double podium today means that he claims the Rider’s Cup, pipping Jason O’Halloran by two points.
Cooper and Bridewell were joined on the podium by series runner-up Jake Dixon, who fought back from a sluggish start on the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki.
Christian Iddon took fourth place, with Josh Brookes right behind him in fifth. The duo got the better of the new Bennetts British Superbike champion, Leon Haslam, in the closing stages.
Gino Rea crossed the line in seventh for OMG Racing Suzuki, with Jason O’Halloran taking a lonely eighth. The top 10 was completed by the Smiths Racing BMW duo of Peter Hickman and Sylvain Barrier.
Elsewhere, it was a disappointing race for the Irwin brothers. Glenn Irwin pulled into the pits midway through the race, whilst Andrew Irwin crashed out of proceedings on the penultimate lap. James Ellison also retired with some form of mechanical problem.
At the beginning of the race Cooper rocketed off the grid and took the lead heading into turn one. O’Halloran also made a great start, going from sixth on the grid to second. Ellison would rapidly drop down the order from second on the grid
We lost our first rider from proceedings on lap two, as Michael Laverty lost control of his BMW and slid right down the middle of the circuit.
Back on the track, Bridewell moved up into second after going by O’Halloran. Haslam would also take advantage and follow the Ducati through.
Ellison pulled into the pits on lap four and retired from the race. Replays showed the Yamaha rider looking down at his bike on the warm-up lap.
By lap five Cooper had already pulled out a 2.6 second advantage over his rivals. Behind him, there was a huge moment for Haslam as he was nearly thrown out of the seat.
There was a great battle beginning for the final podium spot between O’Halloran, Iddon, Haslam and Dixon. Before those riders began exchanging places, Dean Harrison crashed out on Cooper Straight.
Moments later, Haslam went down the inside of Iddon for fourth at turn one. Dixon took advantage immediately and forced his way past Iddon going into Graham Hill Bend.
On the following lap Haslam made the same move on O’Halloran for third, whilst Dixon also went by the Australian at Graham Hill Bend. Iddon would follow the pair through on the same lap. Lap 10 also saw Glenn Irwin return to the pits and retire.
Back at the front it looked like Bridewell was beginning to close down Cooper, after the latter had suffered from a huge moment on his Suzuki.
Speaking of huge moments, Haslam would make an unbelievable save after losing the back end whilst defending from Dixon coming out of Druids.
As the race entered the closing stages the weather conditions were getting worse and Bridewell began to pull back from the race leader. Haslam meanwhile was seen sliding out of the final turn on his Kawasaki, seemingly struggling with rear grip.
Iddon got the better of Haslam at Hawthorns for fourth on the penultimate lap. A few moments later Andrew Irwin crashed out of 11th on the Be Wiser Ducati. Brookes would then overtake Haslam for fourth coming out of the final corner.
Back at the front Cooper crossed the line to take his first victory of the season and only his second victory of his BSB career. Cooper becomes the seventh different rider to win a race in the 2018 season.
After the race the official championship presentation was held for Haslam. The new champion dominated the 2018 season, picking up 15 wins and achieving a 100% finishing record. His 70-point advantage over Dixon also means that Haslam won the title by the biggest margin since the introduction of the showdown in 2010.