It was a day of ups and downs for the Milwaukee Yamaha team at the opening round of the 2015 MCE British Superbike Championship at Donington Park.
Josh Brookes managed to put the new Yamaha YZF-R1 on the podium in race one, with a hard fought 3rd place finish after managing to beat Honda’s Dan Linfoot to the line following a great battle throughout the final few laps of the race.
Looking back at Race One, Brookes said: “We’ve been in and out of the pits all weekend and all through testing trying to fast track the learning of the bike – for me as a rider to learn the bike. I purposely didn’t ride the first few laps too hard in race one, because there was a lot of testosterone going on! I was all the way back, and it wasn’t an ideal situation – but I wanted to make sure I put a strong race together and not fade off at the end.
“I maintained my focus, kept looking at my own lap times and just keeping them steady. I picked away at a few other riders, and made it up through to third. We’re obviously expecting the bike to improve as the year goes on, but to put it on the podium at the first round is testament to what Yamaha have done with a brand new model.
Brookes was fighting for a podium once again in race two but fell down the order when he had to take evasive action to avoid hitting Ryuichi Kiyonari, who suffered from a huge hi-side right in-front of the Australian whilst going through Coppice.
The 31-year-old found himself down in 12th position following this incident but luckily for him there was still plenty of time for him to move back up the field. Brookes did just that and after a few quick laps, found himself back up in sixth place by the end of the race after battling with both of the Tyco BMW riders.
Following the race, Brookes said: “After race one we considered making changes, but we decided to stick with the set-up – we had a bike that was working and I went about trying to ride smoothly. It felt better and I was able to go with the front guys, but then Kiyo crashed right in front of me. I had to brake hard and stand the bike up to avoid him.
“I was pleased because when I re-joined I was nine seconds down, but by the end of the race I was four and a half seconds down so I did a good job. I’m pleased with what we did, it was just the circumstances – Kiyo came and apologised to me as he does, and I am just glad that I didn’t hit him. Now we go onto Brands Hatch and will take it from there.”
The day didn’t go quite as well for Brookes’ team-mate, Broc Parkes, who didn’t manage to score any points on his Milwaukee Yamaha début.
The former Moto GP rider struggled getting off the line in Race One and found himself well down the order, despite starting from eighth position on the grid.
Parkes never really recovered and finished the race down in 16th position, battling with the likes of Luke Mossey and Filip Backlund.
Looking for improvement in race two, Parkes was pushing hard from the get-go but soon found himself out of the race. The 33-year-old lost control of his Yamaha going through Goddards and slid into the gravel trap. Despite being able to pick the bike back up, the rules state that once a rider crashed he or she cannot re-join the action.
A disappointed Parkes said: “I didn’t have the best of starts to the season. I had a problem in race one when I only had half the handle bar grip so I just had to ride and couldn’t do anything about it. I had better pace in the second race, but lost the front into Goddards. I ran a bit shallow into the last corner and just lost the front.
“It is just so disappointing not to get any points today. I have to try and make up for it next time out at Brands Hatch which in the past had been a good circuit for me. I hope to be strong there as things just didn’t work out here today.”
The results from the opening round of the new BSB season leaves Brookes fourth in the championship with 26 points, which is only three points behind James Ellison in third.
Next up for the Milwaukee Yamaha team is round two of the BSB Championship, which is at Brand Hatch and takes place on April 17-19.