Cooper wins home event, Panichi extends championship lead. Despite unevenly wet track conditions, local hero Richard Cooper performed superbly in front of his home crowd, fighting his way throughout the 16-lap race to eventually defeat the ...
Cooper wins home event, Panichi extends championship lead.
Despite unevenly wet track conditions, local hero Richard Cooper performed superbly in front of his home crowd, fighting his way throughout the 16-lap race to eventually defeat the experienced Roberto Panichi and VIP rider David Jefferies to the podium. While the 20 year old BMW Motorrad Team Great Britain rider moves up to equal third in the provisional standings, Panichi extends his championship lead and now holds a 16 point advantage over the ever consistent Swiss Andy Hofmann (4th today).
"Needless to say I'm overwhelmed to win in front of my home crowd," explained Richard Cooper, living in Nottingham, only an hour and a half's drive from Oulton Park. "I tried to get away at the start, and again after three laps, but choosing full wet tyres didn't match the drying track conditions. After four laps Panichi passed me, and he had an advantage with his intermediate rear. I kept on pushing but had made up my mind to settle for second."
But after eight laps rain started again, allowing Cooper to close the 3.8 seconds gap he had over "Panick" Panichi, to finally regain the lead with two laps to go in the race.
"Richard had a great ride. When the rain started again it was really hairy out there with the intermediate rear, and I decided to make sure I'd get on the podium, regardless of my position. There are still seven races to go..." said a delighted Panichi.
Panichi and Cooper started from the front row of the grid, alongside pole setter Markus Barth and 2nd fastest Thomas Hinterreiter. Both German speaking riders looked set to have a chance of winning the race they'd chosen full wets, as Cooper but touched cylinders on lap 2, braking into the new chicane, only to rejoin the race in 13th (Hinterreiter) and 15th position (Barth). Given this race incident, they did extremely well to respectively finish 8th and 9th, with Barth holding on to third in the provisional standings, a position he must nevertheless now share with Richard Cooper.
While British riders performed very consistently - only Matt Layt came into the pits when his tyres went "off" - the other nations entered in the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003 unfortunately weren't as successful : Cristobal (E) retired with fuel tank problems, Lejeune (B) and Perez (USA) crashed out, while ex-Grand Prix rider Peter Öttl (D) wasn't allowed to race owing to an eye injury during practice. French police instructor François Ciciliani also retired early in the race but, together with Team Réseau France teammates Guillaume Dietrich (13th today) and Laurry Fremy (14th), he certainly looks forward to the next round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003, on May 24th in Le Mans, on the eve of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix.