Christian Iddon won a thrilling 42nd J.A.S. Finlay Sunflower Trophy race at Bishopscourt on Saturday to cap his four-year stint with the Tyco BMW team on a winning note.
Stockport man Iddon had to pull out all the stops to fend off last year’s winner Richard Cooper as the pair went head-to-head throughout the 12-lap showpiece.
Cooper led on the Buildbase Suzuki going onto the final lap, but Iddon managed to find a way past to lead when it mattered.
As slower riders entered the equation in the final corners, Cooper was limited in his opportunities to hit back and Iddon crossed the line to win the prestigious silverware for the first time by 0.3 seconds – his second of the weekend after he edged out Cooper in Friday’s wet opener.
It was a rare victory for the Moneymore-based TAS Racing outfit this season after BMW’s official British Superbike representatives failed to reach the Showdown
for the fourth successive year.
The rival Smiths Racing BMW team and Peter Hickman have consistently out-performed Tyco BMW in BSB and also at the international road races over the past few seasons.
Now, it looks as though some big changes will be made at TAS Racing for 2020.
Iddon, speaking immediately after his Sunflower victory on Saturday, said: “Obviously with this being Tyco BMW’s back garden I had to leave with a win, so big thanks to Philip and Hector for the last four years of having me.
“It was just an amazing race and Coops was quicker than me in certain places and I had the edge on him in a few other places, so it was just unreal.
“The sun was out and I really enjoyed that,” he added.
“Thanks also to the Hillsborough Club and I love coming over here to the Sunflower. It was honestly one of the best races I’ve ever had.”
Clogher’s Keith Farmer was handed the chance to ride for the Tyco BMW team alongside Iddon this year in BSB after winning the Superstock 1000 title in 2018 on the BMW S1000RR.
However, the four-time British champion’s season ended early after Farmer broke both legs in a crash at Knockhill in Scotland. He stated on social media recently that his services were apparently “no longer required” by team principal Philip Neill.
Carrick’s Glenn Irwin was drafted in as a replacement for Farmer but parted company from the team after only four rounds.
It is now clear there will be an all-new BSB line-up next season as TAS Racing attempts to become re-established as a serious contender for podiums and race wins, while a long overdue return to the Showdown for the first time since 2015 will be an even more pressing priority.
On Saturday, Sunflower Runner-up Cooper said he gave it his all on the last lap as he congratulated Iddon following a pulsating race at the Co. Down track in the cold autumnal sunshine.
“It was as much fun to race as it probably was to watch. I’ve battled with Christian for six or seven years and I know exactly what he does and how he rides,” he said.
“There was nothing I could do about it unfortunately on that last lap so fair play to Christian.”
David Allingham, riding the Buildbase Suzuki, held off the impressive Jason Lynn on the ex-Burrows Racing Suzuki for third place. Ulster Supersport champion Lynn was making his Superbike race debut at the end-of-season meeting.
Leon Jeacock (Buildbase Suzuki) and Gerard Kinghan (IFS Yamaha) completed the top six.
Earlier, Cooper won the opening Superbike race after Iddon ran off the track shortly after taking the lead. The Tyco BMW rider then crashed out of second place, with Kinghan sealing the runner-up spot after passing Allingham on the last lap.
Lynn and Aaron Armstrong (BMW) filled the top six positions.