Jake Dixon and the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki team wrapped up their 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign in fine style at Brands Hatch over the weekend with two podium finishes seeing them clinch a superb second place overall in the series.
The weekend started well at the Kent venue for Jake as he recorded the fastest time across the three free practice sessions and he duly took pole position for Saturday’s 20-lap race, the first of three across the weekend, with a time of 1m24.699s putting him 0.177s clear of nearest rival Glenn Irwin.
A solid start to the opening race saw the 22-year old slot into second place behind Irwin and with Championship rival Leon Haslam down in seventh place, the title remained very much alive. As the race wore on though, Jake slipped back to third as he lost out to the Ducatis along the straight whilst Haslam moved up to sixth.
With four laps to go, Jake moved back ahead of Andrew Irwin to claim second and although he closed the gap to race leader Glenn Irwin, he had to settle for the runners-up spot, his 15th podium of the season. But with Haslam claiming sixth, it meant the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider took the 2018 BSB title.
Conditions were considerably different on Sunday with the 2.43-mile GP circuit hit by rain and gloomy weather but, lining up in pole position for the first race of the day, Jake ran in the top for the first half of the race before advancing forward. Indeed, lap 13 saw him take over third place and this soon became the lead but as he tipped into Clearways at the end of lap 14, he slid off fortunately without injury.
Starting the 26th and final race of 2018 from fifth on the grid, the weather had worsened again but the Ashby resident slotted into seventh at the end of the first lap and kept himself well in contention with the leading pack in the early laps. Indeed, just after half race distance he took over third place and this was where he ultimately finished to claim his 16th podium from 26 races and end his superb season in second place overall.
Jake Dixon: “It was nice to get pole position to make it three in a row and the speed was good all weekend with the bike working fantastically well so it was obviously disappointing for the title to be decided in the opening race. The Ducatis were very strong though and we were lacking a bit of top end speed so when Andrew (Irwin) came by me, it unsettled me a bit. It took me a while to get going again but whilst I tried to close the gap to Glenn, I ran out of time although I gave it everything I had – I left nothing out there, that’s for sure.”
“The conditions on Sunday were far from ideal and the crash in the first race put me on the back foot and I wasn’t prepared to push as much as the others. I did want to get one over Leon though so pushed hard to get him and it’s great to go out with a podium. The team did a great job all weekend as they have done all year and I can’t thank them enough. We’ve had a fantastic two years so to win the team award as well is the icing on the cake.”
Lee Hardy, Team Owner: “When we raced at the Brands GP circuit back in July we took a brace of fourths so it was clear the changes we’d made to the bike had worked but we were still lacking a bit of top end in the dry compared to the Ducatis. Jake was fast throughout the weekend so we were very pleased with second in race one although it was a shame we weren’t able to take the title race down to Sunday. Conditions were very poor all day after the sunshine the previous day and Jake’s tip off in the first race was certainly a big one.”
“Fortunately, he was ok but the bike wasn’t so lucky although the boys in the team did a great job in getting it ready for the final race of the season. It was cold and wet but Jake rode fantastically well and it was nice to be on the podium in the last race of 2018 and also for the team to win the Championship award. Of course, we would have loved Jake to have become BSB champion but we knew it was going to be tough and we’re only a small team with realistic expectations so to be fighting for the Championship right up until the final round is a terrific effort for all concerned, something everything can be proud of.”
The team have one more outing with Gary Johnson contesting the Macau Grand Prix which takes place on the 3.8-mile Guia circuit on 15-17 November.
Pictures by Tim Keeton – Impact Images Photography
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (20 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Ducati)
2 Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki)
3 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
4 Andrew Irwin (Ducati)
5 Peter Hickman (BMW)
6 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race two (20 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
3 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
4 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
5 Christian Iddon (BMW)
6 Peter Hickman (BMW)
DNF Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race three (20 laps)
1 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
3 Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki)
4 Christian Iddon (BMW)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
Final Championship Standings (after 12 rounds)
1 Haslam 699pts
2 Dixon 629
3 Irwin 588
4 Brookes 584
5 Hickman 577
6 Ray 551