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Ducati TriOptions Cup provides spectacular showdown at Oulton Park

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UK’s premier one-make series one of the highlights of the bank holiday weekend

• James Egan scores more points in National Superstock 1000
• Tough time for Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati

The hugely impressive grid of 34 Ducati 899 Panigales was one of the stars of the bank holiday British Superbike Championship this weekend (2-4 May) at Oulton Park in Cheshire. Sunday’s TriOptions Cup showdown produced a thrilling finale, with 2011 champion Leon Morris securing his first victory of 2015.

Behind the fast-starting Carl Cox Motorsport/P&H rider there was an incredible story developing with a number of series front-runners racing through from the back of the field. Having crashed on his out lap in qualifying, reigning TriOptions Cup champion Dennis Hobbs charged off the line on his Carl Cox Motorsport/P&H 899 from 34th slot to be 11th after just one lap of the picturesque circuit. By lap three Hobbs was up to eighth and behind Rob Guiver on the Hyside Motorcycles machine who was soon to become the talking point of the ten-lap showdown.

At mid-distance Guiver began a series of circulations that repeatedly smashed the Ducati TriOptions lap record and hauled the #13 bike into contention for overall victory. By the eighth tour, he had passed Robbie Brown (Boast Plumbing) to take third position into Lodge and was soon on the back wheel of Marty Nutt (Penso/Ducati Coventry). With fantastic drive out of Druids, Guiver made another move at Lodge to take second place, and set about closing the 1.7s to Morris.

There was more late drama to come, however, as Guiver's Panigale was running low on fuel and cut out causing him to run wide and over the grass at Hislops. Nutt needed no second invitation to sweep past the Essex-based rider, and holding the defensive inside line into the final corner he just managed to keep second place at the flag.

Hobbs' superb race through the field means he maintains top spot in the standings by five points from Nutt. Morris is a further five in arrears in third with Guiver and Sean Neary (Paraplus) rounding out the top five championship positions.

Leon Morris said: “After the disappointment of Brands that was really needed for us, we’re really happy. Marty came past me and I did a pretty hard move to get him back but I was committed – after that I didn’t see anyone. I think tomorrow will be a bit different but that is definitely a bit of a monkey off my back as we had a difficult opening round.”

Rob Guiver said: “I am a bit gutted to be honest – starting from where I was it was a big ask to get the win but I was definitely after a rostrum anyway. I didn’t have a great start, I was aiming for something a bit better but got boxed in and pushed out wide. When I got Marty at the end, the bike started cutting out going down the gears, it wasn’t bad at first but then I had a big moment at Cascades and then going into Hislops it fully cut out and I had to pick it up and go across the grass. It turns out I was running out of fuel so I’m glad I managed to finish the race! It was a bit of a shame not to get second but it’s still good points and after what happened at Brands that’s what I needed!”

The second race has been re-scheduled for the World Superbike Championship weekend at Donington Park (22-24 May), so fans can look forward to a triple-header of Ducati TriOptions Cup action. Click here to view the full championship standings.

With the sun shining on today’s bank holiday Monday action (4 May), MWR Motorsports Ducati rider James Egan enjoyed a successful charge through the middle order of the hugely competitive National Superstock 1000 class, crossing the line in 14th to secure two championship points.

The South African rider missed out on some valuable track time on Saturday with a small off in the damp first qualifying session. In second qualifying on Sunday he managed to secure 21st slot on the grid and making a strong start jumped up to 16th in the early running. It was then a case of closing the gap to a pack of riders ahead, but unfortunately just as Egan was closing in the red flags came out a the result was declared.

James Egan said: "My expectations were probally higher than was realistically achievable this weekend because we haven’t riden the Ducati here before. The weather conditions set us back, in Superstock every session counts as you only get three chances before the race and we lost a whole session to the rain. This is the third round and we set aside three rounds for what would be in reality test sessions, and that’s what this was. We made changes and found a good setting but unfortunately I was too far back in qualifying and just played it safe as I didn’t want to have another crash. Although in the race I was faster round here than I have ever been before – it was probably a top 10 pace – and we had more to come, we have a good base setting and a good direction for the bike. Our testing session is over now so onwards and upwards."

Egan will next be in action as the National Superstock 1000 series supports the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park.

It was a tough weekend for the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati squad as it struggled to find the ideal set-up on the 1199 Panigale R superbike during free practice and qualifying.

Czech rider Jakub ‘Kuba’ Smrz was one of the fastest riders in wet free practice, however with dry conditions for qualifying he posted the 13th quickest time for the opening encounter. With the huge BSB grid pouring into turn one, the #96 rider found himself squeezed onto the outside of the track and over the grass. With some impressive bike control, Kuba managed to keep the Panigale upright, but the excursion left him languishing at the back of the field. Making up a couple of places by the chequered flag he crossed the line in 20th position.

Starting down in 23rd for race two based on lap times from the first battle, Smrz once again found himself in a battle for the top twenty, running in 25th for much of the contest. Swapping places with Cox, Parkes and Mackenzie, he eventually broke away from the pack and comfortably took the chequered flag in 19th.

Steve Moore, Lloyds British Moto Rapido team owner, said: “Oulton Park has never been the best track for the Panigale and we didn’t quite find the sweet spot this weekend. The team has worked really hard, and now we need to focus on testing over the upcoming break. We're looking forward to Snetterton - it's a circuit that has been good for both Kuba and the Panigale in the past.”

Jakub Smrz said:"I didn't really find my rhythm today and didn't have a great feeling on the bike. It was better in the second race, we were able to make some good overtakes, but now the focus is on Snetterton which is a track I like a lot. We were on the front row there last year so it should be a much better weekend for us."

There is now a seven-week break for the British Superbike Championship, with battle resuming at Snetterton in Norfolk on 19-21 June.

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