Folkard Steps Up as Brown Consolidates Challenge Lead

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An emphatic and confident double win for James Folkard (Minards Pavlou Solicitors/ this weekend cemented his position as one of the front-runners in the Ducati 848 Challenge. After some strong results at Snetterton and Misano, a first win for the man from Liverpool seemed inevitable, and this weekend at the Ducati Manchester sponsored Oulton Park round he walked away with a maximum points haul.

Robbie Brown (Ducati Manchester) could only manage a third and a second despite feeling good about his chances for a victory, but he won’t be getting too worried yet as he extended his lead over closest rival Darren Fry (Hirebase Ducati Coventry) to 62.5 points. Brown showed maturity in both races, keeping his cool despite not always being in his usual top position, and walking away with some valuable championship points.

The Friday free practice session was cut very short as a result of earlier rain delays and a red flag as Mike Edwards (Ohlins@P&H Motorcycles) took an uncomfortable tumble. This left the riders with little setup information going into the unexpectedly dry sessions on Saturday.

Despite managing only a couple of flying laps before an exhaust failure, Brown was at the top of the time sheets for almost the entire Qualifying session, but was powerless to stop Dennis Hobbs (Hobbs Racing) from taking pole. Behind Hobbs and Brown, Edwards made up for his free practice off to start third ahead of Bryon Beckett (SAS Racing) and eventual race winner Folkard.

Hobbs looked set to capitalise on his grid position, fighting over second place with Mike Edwards and Robbie Brown for most of Race 1. Unfortunately, on lap eight of ten he pushed a bit too hard, taking a lunge from third position into the lead going into Lodge, the last corner. He almost managed to get the bike stopped, but lost the front end mid-corner trying to take the tightest possible line. This gifted the race win to Folkard, who held off Edwards and Brown to take his first win of the championship.

Hobbs’ luck went from bad to worse in Race 2, as a fluid leak from the underside of his bike on the grid prevented him from starting. From the off Folkard was back on the pace, with Mark Cheetham (Hunt Pie Machines) taking his fight straight to the front on his 2010-spec 848, but with the race just about to get interesting the red flags came out due to Aaron Brown (Team Penso Ducati) falling at Hizzy’s.

The 6-lap restarted race saw Robbie Brown make a much better start second time around and take the lead from his second row place on the grid. The dash to the chequered flag had Folkard and Brown swapping places, but once in front Folkard was a hard man to pass, and despite several attempts to pass at Shell and Lodge bends, Brown had to concede the win and bank the points.

Double race winner, James Folkard
“I’m absolutely thrilled with my first win in the 848 Challenge, but to be honest I’m even more excited about the fact I’m still getting used to riding a big bike. There’s some really strong opposition in this championship, so to finish ahead of them all is fantastic. I actually had a few problems in both races, with a front suspension issue in race one and an exhaust problem in race two, but getting around these problems made winning even more special. I’d like to say a big thanks to all the team and our sponsors for making it possible, and hope these are the first of many race wins.”

Round Six of the Ducati 848 Challenge will be at Cadwell Park BSB over the Bank Holiday weekend of 25/26/27 August.

Race 1 Result: Folkard – Edwards – R Brown – Cheetham – Fry – Coventry – Beckett – Compton – Neary – Adam – Smith – Keen – White – Poole – A Brown – Steve Jordan – Holden – Dawson – Wyatt – Collins – Poyser – Howarth – Myler – Gibson – Sarah Jordan

Race 2 Result: Folkard – R Brown – Fry – Cheetham – Edwards – Coventry – Neary – Beckett – Compton – Coulter – Keen – Smith – Poole – White – Jordan – Wyatt – Dawson – Holden – Collins – Poyser – Myler – Jordan – Gibson –

Championship Top Ten after Round Three, Snetterton
R Brown (200.5pts), Fry (138), Folkard (122.5), Edwards (84.5), Coventry (78), Beckett (77.5), Compton (64), Smith (63), Cheetham (62), Dawson (59)