Bradley Ray says his first British Superbikes title feels surreal after he clinched the crown with two races to spare at the weekend.
The Lydd RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha racer wrapped up the championship early in the final round of the series at Brands Hatch. Needing just seventh place and nine points, Ray finished Saturday's sprint race, won by Honda's Glenn Irwin, in fifth.
“It’s been an unbelievable season," he said. "We knew coming into the championship that we had a great package with the Yamaha R1 and great structure around me but I never thought I’d be stood here at Brands Hatch as Bennetts British Superbike champion.
"We’ve all grafted - the whole team, my family and myself - and we’ve been in a good place all year.
"We’ve taken the opportunities when we needed to, we did enough in the regular season and again in the Showdown so I’m super proud of myself and the team and everyone around us to lift my first Bennetts British Superbike title.”
Qualifying sixth for the sprint on his home circuit, Ray's efforts helped secure the team championship for a title double with fellow RICH Energy OMG Racing Yamaha rider Kyle Ryde finishing ninth, fourth and 10th.
The new champion uncharacteristically slipped out of contention in race two at Paddock Hill Bend, cartwheeling through the gravel for a DNF to leave his crew with a lot of work to do. FHO BMW racer Peter Hickman took victory.
Replacing at least 75% of the machine, the mechanics did an incredible job to get Ray out onto the grid for race three where he finished sixth and received the trophy in front of a bumper Brands crowd. Irwin, meanwhile, ended the season on a high with his second win of the weekend to finish second in the standings with Oxford Products Racing Ducati's Tommy Bridewell third.