Josh Brookes made a perfect start to the decisive Brands Hatch meeting by setting the fastest time on the Indy circuit today. The Australian has a 41 point deficit to overturn if he is win the British Superbike Championship which narrowly eluded him last year, but showed in testing that he has the pace to run his rivals close.
Brookes had two of his challengers immediately behind him with Michael Laverty and Shane Byrne second and third but the Relentless Suzuki rider is only concentrating on his own performance.
“The boys had fine-tuned the bike a little to find some more horsepower. I'm carrying some decent confidence. The weekend really kicks off on Saturday which is going to be a big intense day, then on Sunday it is the normal two races and we'll be looking for more wins.”
EVO class frontrunner Graeme Gowland was a stand-out performer in fourth while Tommy Hill was three tenths off the pace in fifth. The Swan Yamaha rider suffered final day heartache last year but is confident of handling the pressure this time.
“I am trying to be more relaxed compared to how I was ahead of the final round of last season. I know I am mentally ready for these races.”
“I hope people understand that I crashed last year because of how hard I was fighting and how much I wanted to win the BSB title. I will be coming out fighting as hard as I can to win again this weekend and hopefully that will be enough to be the 2011 champion.”
Standing in his way will be John Hopkins, who holds an eight point lead going into this weekend's triple header. The American was sixth fastest today and will be taking an attacking approach to the deciding races.
“The points gap that I have is a great advantage but not really a comfort, the strategy still has to be ‘race to win’, anything less and we won’t have the championship. There’s mental pressure as well, but it’s nothing new to me, nothing I can’t deal with.”
Chris Walker was seventh quickest ahead of EVO champion Glen Richards and outgoing BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari while Alex Lowes completed the top ten for Motorpoint Yamaha.
The action will now switch from the Indy circuit to the Brands Hatch GP layout, with the all-important qualifying session scheduled for 13:05 and the opening race later on at 16:20.
2011 MCE British Superbike Championship with Pirelli & BSB-EVO
Final Round: Brands Hatch GP (Friday Test Session)
|1||Josh Brookes||AUS||Suzuki||Relentless Suzuki by TAS||45.708|
|2||Michael Laverty||GBR||Yamaha||Swan Yamaha||+0.070|
|3||Shane Byrne||GBR||Honda||HM Plant Honda||+0.156|
|4||Graeme Gowland (E)||GBR||Honda||Team WFR||+0.260|
|5||Tommy Hill||GBR||Yamaha||Swan Yamaha||+0.344|
|6||John Hopkins||USA||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||+0.353|
|7||Chris Walker||GBR||Kawasaki||Pr1mo Racing||+0.536|
|8||Glen Richards (E)||AUS||Honda||Team WFR||+0.537|
|9||Ryuichi Kiyonari||JAP||Honda||HM Plant Honda||+0.587|
|10||Alex Lowes||GBR||Yamaha||Motorpoint Yamaha||+0.650|
|11||Dan Linfoot||GBR||Honda||Tyco Honda||+0.706|
|12||James Ellison||GBR||Honda||Team SorryMate.com||+0.725|
|13||Peter Hickman||GBR||Honda||Tyco Honda||+0.734|
|14||Tommy Bridewell||GBR||Yamaha||Motorpoint Yamaha||+0.848|
|15||Gary Mason||GBR||Kawasaki||MSS Colchester Kawasaki||+0.861|
|16||James Westmoreland (N)||GBR||Honda||Team WFR||+0.891|
|17||Michael Rutter||GBR||Ducati||Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati||+1.050|
|18||Steve Brogan||GBR||Honda||Jentin Racing Honda||+1.094|
|19||Karl Harris (E)||GBR||Aprilia||Splitlath Motorsport||+1.160|
|20||Barry Burrell (E)||GBR||BMW||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||+1.169|
|21||Patric Muff (E)||SWI||Honda||Tyco Honda||+1.296|
|22||Steve Mercer||GBR||Honda||Jentin Racing Honda||+1.316|
|23||Ian Lowry||GBR||Kawasaki||MSS Colchester Kawasaki||+1.334|
|24||James Hillier (E)||GBR||Kawasaki||Bournemouth Kawasaki Racing||+1.395|
|25||David Anthony (E)||AUS||BMW||Doodson Motorsport||+1.434|
|26||Martin Jessopp||GBR||Ducati||Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati||+1.685|
|27||Scott Smart (E)||GBR||Ducati||Moto Rapido Ducati||+1.985|
|28||Aaron Zanotti (E)||GBR||BMW||Quattro Plant Spike Racing||+2.320|
|29||John Simpson (E)||GBR||Aprilia||Splitlath Motorsport||+2.574|
|30||Steve Heneghan (E)||IRL||Kawasaki||Buy-Force.com PR Racing||+2.913|
|107.5% Time: 49.136|
|31||Dan Kneen (E)||GBR||Kawasaki||Marks Bloom Racing||+3.939|
|32||Jon Kirkham||GBR||Suzuki||Samsung Crescent Racing||No Time|
|(E) – Evo Class||(N) – 2012 Spec|