Two seconds for Hucknall ace Richard Cooper at Oulton Park

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Hucknall racer Richard Cooper rode to an impressive brace of second places in the opening round of the 2024 Pirelli National Sport Bike championship at Oulton Park over the Bank Holiday weekend, writes Helen Pask.

Cooper was riding the PHR Performance by Peter Hickman Racing Triumph Daytona 660 in the new championship which replaces the Junior Superstock championship that ended last season.

After free practice and qualifying Cooper was the second fastest rider and began Sunday’s opening race from a front row grid position lining up beside Italian youngster Edoardo Colombi.

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As the race got underway it was Colombi who snatched the lead from Cooper, but on the second lap there was a crash which brought out the safety car and the riders held their positions following the car for the next couple of laps.

Richard Cooper at Oulton Park after finishing second.Richard Cooper at Oulton Park after finishing second.
Richard Cooper at Oulton Park after finishing second.

When the car left the circuit the race was back on and the fight between the top two riders continued with Cooper looking for an opportunity to pass and take the lead.

But another incident on lap seven brought the race to an early end when the red flag halted proceedings. Colombi was awarded the win just 0.082s ahead of Cooper who had set the fastest lap to establish the lap record of 1m 42.599s - 94.49mph on lap seven.

Race two on Monday saw a thrilling battle between Colombi and Cooper who were quick to move well ahead of the pursuing pack.

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Their fight for supremacy continued throughout the 12 laps with the lead being exchanged between the two on every lap.

It all came to a head on the final lap, Colombi ran slightly wide and Cooper saw his chance to snatch the lead.

As they approached the final corner they came across a back marker and Colombi was able to nip past both riders and cross the finish line for the win with Cooper right behind him once again in second place.

Cooper again recorded the fastest lap to override the previous one with a time of 1.42.433s - 94.61mph.

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Cooper now heads to Northern Ireland where he is to race at the North West 200 road races later in the week.

The next round of the Sport Bike championship takes place at Donington Park over the weekend of 17th-19th May.