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Ducati shines through the rain on dramatic British Superbike finals day

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Baiocco scores points in final two BSB races while incredible Superstock 1000 contest sees both Ducati riders in the top four.

Ducati ended the 2013 British Superbike Championship season on a high this weekend at Brands Hatch with points-scoring finishes in both of Sunday’s BSB races and an impressive performance in the National Superstock 1000 class.

Coming off the back of a sensational weekend at Silverstone for Matteo Baiocco and the Rapido Sport Racing Ducati team, the pressure was on to produce another good result around the challenging Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. Having missed the first free practice session on Friday, the Italian was on the back foot for the first part of the weekend. Come qualifying, however, the pace seen from the 1199 Panigale RS superbike last time out made a welcome return, and for the second race meeting in succession Baiocco progressed into the final qualifying session to secure tenth position on the grid for race one.

A problem with the clutch meant that the reigning Italian Superbike champion couldn’t capitalise on his strong qualifying, and he slipped back to 17th over the first of three 18-lap contests this weekend.

Race two on Sunday saw mixed conditions throw another layer of uncertainty into the mix, with riders opting for different tyre choices throughout the grid. Baiocco’s decision to run full wets paid off in the early stages, and he ran for a time as high up as fourth place. As the track dried, however, his pace dropped away, and he had to fight hard to maintain a points-scoring position, eventually crossing the line in 13th. The final race of the year saw full wet conditions, and from down in 18th on the grid Matteo once again had it all to do to score points. With great pace in the middle part of the race he was able to secure 15th, rounding out a progressive debut season in BSB with points finishes in both races on finals day.

The two Ducati riders in the National Superstock 1000 class grabbed the headlines, as Tristan Palmer rode to his fourth podium of the season for Rapido Sport Racing and Robbie Brown rode brilliantly through the field to score his best result of 2013 in fourth for DMC Racing.

In Friday’s dry qualifying session Palmer put his Panigale fifth on the grid, with a marked improvement in the dry for Brown putting him 15th. Sunday’s wet conditions then played into the hands of both riders, and as Tristan fought for the outright race win, 2012 Ducati 848 Challenge champion Robbie proved once again his prowess in challenging conditions. He charged through from 15th to finish just 0.294s from the podium positions setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Palmer had led the race going onto the final lap, but just lost out going into Clearways for the final time. Second place for Palmer and a seasons-best fourth for Brown left both Ducati teams in high spirits going into the winter break, with more success surely on the cards for the Panigale in Superstock trim.

Having seen the potential of the Ducati Panigale in the BSB, Millsport Racing, who have worked alongside Rapido Sport Racing this year, have announced their intentions to step up to compete in the main superbike class for 2014. The team is now looking to secure sufficient sponsorship to mount a serious championship challenge.

Robbie Brown said: I can’t complain at that – I just wish I’d had a couple more laps and I know I could have won it! It’s great to finish on a high – we’ve made some real progress over the last few race meetings, and I wish it wasn’t the end of the season now. I’d like to say a big thanks to Ducati Manchester and everyone who’s supported us this year. Hopefully we can get the budget together and come back stronger next year.

Tristan Palmer said: I pushed 100% to try and get the win but Jenkinson just got past on the last lap and there was nothing I could do. It’s great to get another podium for the team, and to have both Ducati’s right up there is good for everyone. I’ve enjoyed riding the Panigale for Rapido Sport Racing this year, and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to challenge for the championship next season.

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