The Ducati TriOptions 848 Challenge reached its exciting conclusion this weekend at Silverstone, as two riders came into the event battling for outright championship glory. Boast Plumbing’s Jonathan Railton trailed Ducati Coventry’s Marty Nutt by just 12 points coming into the weekend, and with 50 points up for grabs it was all still to play for.
Qualifying saw Railton way back in 13th place for the first race on Saturday afternoon, however a lightning start saw him jump up to fifth by the end of the first lap. He looked to have the pace to lead the pack, and was battling for the lead with Dennis Hobbs by half race distance while Nutt was embroiled in a battle back in fifth place. With things looking set to provide a scintillating final showdown, Railton suffered a gearbox issue on his blue and white Ducati 848evo and dropped from second to sixth across the line. A late resurgence from Nutt saw him take second place behind Hobbs, and with that result the ball was put firmly in the court of the #77 rider going into the final contest.
In perfect conditions the 21-bike grid lined up for Sunday’s Silverstone season finale, with championship leader Nutt on pole from Mike Edwards and Dennis Hobbs. It was the experienced Edwards and fast starting Leon Morris that got away at the front early on, with Nutt and Railton battling for fourth and fifth further back. A superb final race for inaugural 848 Challenge champion Darren Fry saw him right in the hunt over the eight lap sprint, eventually crossing the line third. Morris held on to take the win from Edwards, while Nutt rode a calculated final race to fourth, breaking his run of fifteen podium finishes but ensuring the 2013 title was his.
Marty Nutt said: There have been a couple of races this season where I’ve been careful, sat back and thought about the championship, and it’s really paid off for us. We’ve already got an 899 Panigale order and it looks awesome! I can’t wait to get riding it with the number one on the front. A lot of these guys have finished strongly this year which has given them the drive to come back for more next year, and I can’t wait to get back out there with them.
Leon Morris said: My season has been up and down – we struggled at the start, but the pace of the series this year is phenomenal. When I won in 2011 and likewise Robbie Brown last year, we weren’t exactly hanging about, but this year the guys have been consistently a second and a half quicker than before! I’ve tried my hardest all year and we’ve only come out with two wins, but it’s definitely nice to round the season off with a win. The level of the series has grown and grown, and it’s really different to win races. It’s a brilliant series – the bikes are fantastic but more than that we’ve grown into a family. We’ve had a great year, there’s a lot of respect out there between the riders, I’d like to give a big congratulations to John Hackett and Marty Nutt and I hope to be back again next year.
Jonathan Railton said: The first part of the season couldn’t have gone any better – my confidence was sky high and I was really enjoying riding the Ducati. Half way through the season at Brands I was leading the race and had the front end go. It was one of those crashes where you don’t know exactly what happened which always knocks your confidence, and it’s been difficult since them. We got back on form at Assen with some great racing and another win. That’s what is great about these one make championships – the racing is really close and the Ducati 848 has been a brilliant bike to ride. Well done to Marty and all the front runners who have made it such a great series this year – it’d be great to be associated with Ducati again next year. I’d also like to say a big thanks to the whole Boast Plumbing team who have been there and helped me through all the ups and downs.
The Ducati 848 will return to British Superbikes in 2014 alongside the new 899 Panigale to form the Ducati TriOptions Cup.