Strafford set for thrilling end to Classic Superbikes Championship

Mirfield's Ryan Strafford will battle it out with rival Kieran Smith to become GP1 Classic Superbikes when the final round takes place at Oulton Park on October 18 and 19. Picture: Kerry Rawson.
Mirfield's Ryan Strafford will battle it out with rival Kieran Smith to become GP1 Classic Superbikes when the final round takes place at Oulton Park on October 18 and 19. Picture: Kerry Rawson.

Mirfield rider Ryan Strafford will go into the final round of the GP1 Classic Superbikes Championship with an eight-point lead over rival Kieran Smith.

The last round of the year at Oulton Park only has two races but both will score double points with Strafford and Smith going head to head for the title.

Round Six — held at the Cadwel Park Race circuit over September 21 and 22 — saw the Mirfield man’s preparations interrupted by the birth of his first child.

With Ryan and partner Krysta’s child immanent, she went into labour in the early hours of the Saturday morning.

The couple set off for York where arrangements for the birth had been made but this meant Strafford would miss qualifying and the likelihood of him been ruled out of all four races over the weekend.

Baby Benjamin arrived at 9.14am on the Sunday morning and with both baby and mum in good health and with the blessing of Krysta, Strafford went back to Cadwell for the last race on Sunday and try to minimise the loss of Championship points.

His team had remained at the Lincolnshire circuit to help the academy riders so Strafford’s kit and bikes were still there.

Strafford arrived back at the circuit with 10 minutes to spare before his race but as he had not qualified on Saturday he had to start at the back of a packed 32 bike grid.

Race four was over eight laps on the Sunday afternoon and with Strafford’s previous championship lead now down to just 12 points after the three previous races, the Mirfield rider had to concentrate on passing as many bikes as possible in the short dash to the flag.

Catching and passing Smith was not an option from so far back with all that traffic on the circuit, so damage limitation was the best he could hope for.

Strafford passed five bikes into the first corner and slowly but surely set about passing riders at various parts of the circuit.

By lap four he was up to 10th place but it was getting more difficult to catch and pass the riders in front as they were running fast times.

By lap seven, Strafford had worked his way up to sixth place and finally crossed the line at the end, third in class and fourth overall, just behind Smith, who finished second in class (third overall).

It was a fantastic ride considering the previous 48 hours Strafford had endured with little sleep and sets up a thrilling championship decider with rival Smith at Oulton Park.

Racing is due to take place over the weekend of October 18 and 19 with Strafford holding a slender advantage.