AN INTENSE 2021 SEASON FILLED WITH HIGHS AND LOWS IS CONSIGNED TO THE HISTORY BOOKS AS MCCONNELL TAKES VICTORY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2021
The RICH Energy OMG Racing team ended the 2021 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch as the curtain came down on the best domestic championship in the world. It has been a rollercoaster of a season with teamwork and hard work leading the way across 11 rounds at 8 circuits, contesting 33 superbike races and 17 Superstock races with 12 podiums and a pole position or two to round things off. The highlight of the weekend saw Billy McConnell finally take a well-deserved win in the Pirelli National Superstock championship finale.
Last weekend in the Garden of England it was a tough weekend for the Superbike pairing of Kyle Ryde and Bradley Ray. A damp, difficult Qualifying session saw the pair end up further down the grid than Friday Free Practice showed with Brad 16th and Kyle 17th ahead of the opening race of the weekend. With more than an eye on the Rider's Cup, Brad Ray had to finish ahead of Lee Jackson at every opportunity to lift the trophy for highest placed non-Showdown contender. 13th for Kyle at the flag and 10th for Brad set the tone for the weekend and an uphill challenge for Brad.
As the final race day of the season dawned, two races remained to end the season on a high for the team. Cup rival crashed out of Race 2, however Brad struggled to capitalise as he ended the race 13th, three places behind teammate, Ryde. The gap closed to the point where a finish ahead of the FS-3 Kawasaki man in Race 3 would secure the Rider's Cup for Ray. The RICH Energy OMG Racing pair started side-by-side on the grid, Ryde hoping to help his good friend in his quest. A huge effort from Ray after being mired in the opening laps, wasn't quite enough to challenge Jackson as his teammate rode shotgun to protect the Lincolnshire plumber. 8th and 11th ended the season for Ray and Ryde, 10th and 15th in the championship.
The team's Aussie Pirelli National Superstock contender, Billy McConnell, still had a chance of lifting the 2021 Championship and did his cause no harm by qualifying 4th for the sole 'stock race of the weekend. With title leader, Tom Neave, way back in 19th place on the grid, the Adelaide man got a flying start to settle in to third place in the opening laps before dispensing with a rejuvenated Jordan Weaving to chase down early leader, Taylor Mackenzie. Reeling the Scotsman in, McConnell did what he had to do, and that was win the race. Behind him, Neave was making slow progress but eventually got into his rhythm and progressed ahead of the 14th place McConnell needed him to finish to take the title. In terms of the championship, it wasn't to be for the former British Supersport Champion but the elation of taking his first win of 2021 made the day sweeter. A win, four seconds and four thirds were an excellent return for McConnell, who finished the season as runner-up by just 5 points to Neave.
Attention now focuses immediately to 2022 and the switch to Yamaha R1 machinery. Before throwing some outstanding shapes with the team on the McAMS Yamaha dance floor, Team Principal, Paul Curran said, "It's been another tough series of races for Brad and Kyle this weekend, but Billy's win made it all the better. Brad and Kyle have struggled a little this weekend, but they didn't stop working to improve and they gave their best, as they have in every session, and I'd like to thank all three riders for their efforts this season. Billy has been due a win for a while now and it was great to see him finally achieve it at the very last race of the season, and well-deserved it was, too.
I want to thank the whole team for their hard work and dedication this season; it makes me proud to see the effort and determination from management, the crews, hospitality, and media that makes this team what it is.
We're already looking to 2022 and the exciting move to Yamaha. We can't wait to get started!"