OPINION: What’s gone wrong for Brad Ray?

by Ryan Lilly

This time last year Bradley Ray had two wins to his name, along with one podium finish. So far in 2019, Ray has only had two top ten finishes onboard his Buildbase Suzuki. But what’s going wrong?

Coming up through the ranks, starting in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, Bradley Ray had shown sheer speed and talent right from the start of his career. From his serious success in the British Supersport class, right up to his debut win at Donington Park.

However, Ray has failed to stand on the podium since Cadwell Park back in August 2018, where he returned to the podium after a prior dip in form. Ray’s issues started after the Suzuka 8 hour, having to get used to a new tyre and having to adapt his riding around the Bridgestone tyre. Ray then found the transition back to the Pirelli’s tougher than expected and showed a serious dip in performance, ending his title chances.

Ray’s troubles can be seen in the transition from corner entry to mid-corner, where he struggles to find confidence in the front end when the brake is released. As we know, to ride a Superbike fast, you need all the confidence in the front end of the motorcycle. Ray’s troubles could be down to the new Pirelli front tyre as it’s harder compound could be a big factor in how Ray rides the bike.

Bradley Ray’s style is, typically, to carry a lot of corner speed and, for this, you need to have the confidence to let the brake off and let the bike roll through the corner before then picking the throttle up mid-corner and powering out. Once again, with Ray’s lack of confidence in the front end of the Suzuki, he can’t open the throttle as early as he’d like as when you apply the power, it unloads the front, making it lighter.

Photo Credit: Craig McAllister

Do not count out Ray and his Suzuki just yet. After showing that he can return to form like he did last year, it’s just a matter of time until we see Ray back at the sharp end.

On the other side of the garage, British Superbike rookie, Luke Stapleford has had a much stronger start to his 2019 campaign. He scored a top-five finish and has been constantly improving and troubling the top ten. The 2015 British Supersport champion has quickly adapted to the beast that is a British Superbike and will keep improving as the season goes on.

Stapelford currently leads his more experienced teammate in the standings by nine points as the BSB paddock rolls on to Brands Hatch for round five of the season.

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