Josh Brookes is one more victory away from becoming British Superbike Champion for the first time in his career after another magnificent double at Silverstone. The Australian was forced to work hard for his success, particularly in race one, but will now head to the Brands Hatch finale knowing that he will be crowned champion with a win there.
The first race was a story of tyre life with Brookes keeping his powder dry before attacking in the closing stages and the Milwaukee Yamaha man was unbeatable once he upped his place with three laps remaining. Although he closed it out in style, Josh admitted the sprint to the finish was anything but straightforward.
“At the start of race one I was trying to find a pace that I felt could last the race distance and then James [Ellison] came passed and I thought that maybe that was a good situation as I could let him do the work. Then when Shakey came by me I sat calmly in third and kept an eye on them. I thought if I could stay smooth and fast and not make any mistakes then they shouldn’t have any extra to give than I have, I felt we were on fairly equal terms. I was able to get passed and then the final laps were a real fight with myself, the bike, the tyre and each corner – I was battling the elements in my own environment to keep it together. I had to concentrate and I am really pleased I bought it home.”
Having fallen as low as fifth, Shane Byrne salvaged second to keep his championship hopes alive but his chances of retaining his crown suffered a hammer blow in race two as he trailed home in fifth despite starting from pole position. His cause wasn’t helped by an even stronger showing from Brookes who overcame a difficult start to win by 3.5 seconds.
Brookes dropped to eighth at one point but a succession of ruthless overtaking manoeuvres saw him to an eleventh win of 2015, extending his championship lead to 47 points.
“I certainly found it difficult at the start of the second race as I got pushed wide at turn one”, he explained. “Exiting the turn he moved wide and I got squeezed out and I lost momentum and a few positions. I knew right from the start it was then going to be difficult. I got momentum going again and I had a great battle with Christian [Iddon] but every time I got in front of him he would slam me back and I was wasting a lot of laps as I needed to make some forward progress. It wasn’t until I was in front of him that I could move forward with confidence and the bike definitely worked better than race one. I moved to the front and then I could ride my own rhythm and I had confidence to keep pushing harder. I am looking forward to returning to Brands Hatch now for the final round.”
In the day’s standout performance, Peter Hickman sliced through the leading pack in the closing laps of race one to clinch his third podium of the season with John Hopkins giving Moto Rapido Ducati their best result of the year in fourth, beating title fighters James Ellison and Michael Laverty into fifth and sixth.
Laverty responded by seeing off Dan Linfoot for second in race two with Christian Iddon beating Byrne to a season’s best of fourth. Richard Cooper was next up in sixth, giving him a sixteen point lead in the race for the BSB Rider’s Cup.