Mike Edwards put a disappointing start to the season behind him with a win and a second place at Round Three of the Ducati 848 Challenge at the Snetterton BSB weekend. With a gritty ride to victory in Race One and a late charge to third in Race Two, Edwards (Ohlins @ P&H Motorcycles) managed to keep his championship hopes alive following a run of uncharacteristic crashes at the last two rounds.
Edwards said before Race One that he was going for a “win it or bin it” attitude this weekend as he desperately needed to make up the points he missed out on at Assen. He got off to the perfect start, taking the lead into the first corner and controlling the race from the front.
Unable to pull a big gap, Edwards showed his guile and experience in keeping a confident Darren Fry (Hirebase/JHP Racing) behind him, who managed to fight his way from a disappointing tenth place in qualifying to second place by lap six. Despite Fry briefly taking the lead a lap later, Edwards was able to get straight back past, and their scrapping allowed James Folkard (Minards Pavlou Solicitors) to close right up and challenge for the lead.
Edwards eventually managed to hold off the repeated attacks of Fry and Folkard to take the win by 0.4 seconds, but his fastest lap of the race was only good enough for fourth on the grid for race two.
In Race Two, Fry made a good start from pole in identical conditions to Saturday’s race, but it wasn’t enough to keep Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester) behind him. Once the championship leader was through he pulled out a comfortable gap as Folkard once again showed good pace repeatedly fighting first with Byron Beckett (SAS Racing) then repeatedly swapping places with Fry.
There were a fair few retirements from the second race, with Peter Hasler (Boast Plumbing/Art of Racing) and Jack Keen (Havoc Racing) coming together in the first corner, ending a miserable weekend for Keen who also had a crash in race one.
As the race entered it’s closing stages, the battle for second and third intensified, as Mark Cheetham (Hunt Pie Machines) on his non-EVO 848 made his way from tenth on the grid to fight with Fry, Edwards and Folkard. Fry was unsettled by a strong passing move from Cheetham and ran onto the grass, just managing to keep the bike upright bringing it back onto the track to finish tenth and in the points. As this scrapping was going on, Robbie Brown took a majestic race win by recording some incredible laptimes; his fastest lap of 1:56.5 a second quicker than anyone else over the course of the entire weekend.
Mike Edwards, winner of Race 1
“It was quite a relief just to finish this race, but in the back of mind I knew that the only place worth finishing was first. I got off to a great start and tried my best to break the tow to the guys behind me. After a lap or so I could see it wasn’t going to work, so I just tried to control the pace from the front and make the bike as wide as possible.”
Robbie Brown, winner of Race 2
“I’m really pleased with how it went today. We made loads of changes to the setup overnight and weren’t sure how well we’d go. I got a decent start, but when Darren went past me I wasn’t sure whether or not to follow him or try get back past. In the end the bike felt good enough to push, and after I got past him I just got my head down and didn’t see much action. Now I’m looking forward to learning the Misano circuit on the Playstation to prep for the next race!”
Round Four of the Ducati 848 Challenge will be at Misano, Italy, and takes place during the famous World Ducati Weekend on 22/23/24 June.
Race 1 Result: Edwards – Fry – Folkard – R. Brown – Beckett – Cheetham – Dawson – Smith – Neary – Compton – Coulter – Poole – Adam – White – Coventry – Poyser – Mr. Jordan – A. Brown – Wyatt – Patterson – Hasler – Wilson – Mrs. Jordan – Cruickshank
Race 2 Result: R. Brown – Folkard – Edwards – Cheetham – Beckett – Dawson – Compton – White – Smith – Fry – Hobbs – A. Brown – Coventry – Poole – Adam – Mr. Jordan – Wyatt – Poyser – Poll – Myler – Mrs. Jordan
Championship Top Ten after Round Three, Snetterton
R Brown (114.5pts), Fry (71), Edwards (53.5), Dawson (46), Folkard (45.5), Coventry (42), Compton (41), Neary (39), Smith (38), Beckett (37.5)