Strafford extends lead in Superbikes championship
Mirfield rider Ryan Strafford stretched his lead at the top of the GP1 Classic Superbikes Championships following success at round six, held at the Anglesey Race Circuit.
The meeting was held during record breaking temperatures over the August Bank Holiday weekend, which was in contrast to the previous meeting at a wet Donington Park.
Practice on Saturday went without any major issues, and Strafford spent the six free sessions searching for a setting that gave him confidence in rear tyre grip as the track surface temperature was just shy of 50 degrees C.
Qualifying, along with race one and two on Sunday, took place in glorious sunshine and extremely hot track surface.
Strafford qualified third putting the Yamaha R1 on front row with 0.2 seconds splitting the front three riders.
The pole position rider made a great start to the 10-lap race one, with Strafford dropping into third place at the first turn.
After four laps Straford passed the second place rider but was unable to reel in the leader and this is how the race finished, although his main rival for the championship finished fourth.
Although there are 11 corners at Anglesey it is a very difficult circuit to overtake.
Strafford made a serious mistake at the start of the second race with a jump start and collected a 20 second penalty.
After the first lap he was last but slowly started to climb the leader board and to his credit finished sixth on the time sheet to limit the damage as challenger Smith finished fourth, which meant Strafford extended his lead by two points at the end of the first day.
More hot weather greeted riders for Mondays two races, which were over 12 laps and meant tweaks were needed to improve grip at the rear tyre.
Race three saw the front row unchanged but Smith had moved up to fourth with improved lap times.
Strafford and Smith both made good starts and held first and second places.
Smith finally passed Strafford to win the race and reduced his lead by three points.
Strafford had a new rear tyre for the fourth race and it paid off as he made a great, taking the lead at the first corner and pressed to open a 20-bike length gap on Smith.
Smith crashed out of the race and Strafford went on to beat Greg Lewis into second place to take the race win.
With the 25 points for the win Strafford extended his championship to 64 points with two rounds remaining.
Strafford said: “I knew I had the pace to push for the win. I boxed clever in race three as I was on a old rear tyre and I was losing grip lap after lap, losing five points was better than a full 25.
“In race four, with new tyres I knew I could push hard on the opening laps.
“I wanted to gap the following riders to force them into chasing me. Smith pushed too hard and down he went.
“The remainder of the race I managed the lap times to stay in front of Greg Lewis and maximise the points before the team celebrated with a cold pint.”