Newly crowned Bennetts British Superbike Champion (BSB) Bradley Ray will graduate to the international stage next season after landing a deal with privateer Yamaha outfit Motoxracing for the 2023 WorldSBK season.
The 25-year-old from Kent romped to a surprise BSB title victory this season with the independent RICH Energy OMG Racing team, riding the year-old Yamaha R1 that took Tarran Mackenzie to championship glory a year earlier.
A title-winning campaign built on a foundation of near flawless front-running consistency throughout, Ray scored nine victories and 23 podiums over the course of the 2022 BSB season, clinching the crown in style with a dominant showing in the Title Showdown.
It was a success that subsequently put him in the shop window for prospective WorldSBK teams, leading to a deal being struck with Italian outfit Motoxracing to contest the 2023 season aboard a Yamaha R1.
With Motoxracing Yamaha only committed to the European rounds, Ray will contest at least eight of the 11 confirmed events, with his season getting underway a little later than his rivals during Round 3 at Assen on April 21-23.
“After what's been an incredible debut year with Yamaha in the UK, I’m absolutely delighted that Yamaha have rewarded me with this opportunity to take the next step with the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team.
“I've dreamed of being WorldSBK Champion since my race debut at three years old and I'm only too aware that it wouldn’t be possible without the support of a manufacturer like Yamaha and the team I have around me.
“I'm very keen to get started in WorldSBK and hope to follow in the footsteps of many of the successful Brits in the Championship. It's time to take aim for that next title, step by step!”
While OMG Racing Team Owner Alan Gardner jests that he ‘selfishly’ wanted to retain Ray for a run at its 2023 BSB title defence, he is delighted to have enabled him a platform from which to realise his WorldSBK aspirations.
“Obviously from a selfish point of view we’re very sorry to see Brad go but couldn’t be happier for him with his move to World Superbikes. He proved every inch the champion throughout the season and was always willing to put the graft in to make sure he was front of the pack – a tactic that definitely worked for him!
“I’m excited to see how he fares on an international stage. It’s a big step, but he’s impressed us greatly this season with his level-headed assessment of situations, knowing when and where to hold back as much as go on the attack.
“Playing the long game is something that I think will work well for him moving forward, and in a championship as competitive as World Superbikes, is a vital tool in his arsenal.
“We’ll be watching his campaign with enthusiasm and wish him all the best moving forwards in his career.
“Winning a championship together always creates something special, especially one as prestigious as BSB, and he’ll always have our support. Go and show them how it’s done!”
Ray becomes the latest in a long line of riders to turn success at BSB level into a WorldSBK promotion, with the likes of Scott Redding, Alex Lowes, Shane Byrne, Josh Brookes, Leon Haslam and Ryuchi Kiyonari each landing a WorldSBK seat as a direct result of winning a BSB title.
While Motoxracing has developed into a well-established outfit in its native Italy, the 2022 season marked its debut competing in the WorldSBK Championship outright. With a single Yamaha entry for veteran Italian racer Roberto Tamburini, the Italian was a regular point-scorer, peaking with a best finish of tenth place in Barcelona.