BSB challenger throws it away
Josh Brookes looked set to have a barnstorming Brands Hatch battle with Shane Byrne, but his incredible practice and qualifying pace did not result in the race pace he promised.
The Yamaha star was the only man able to match Byrne’s pace in practice, but was hampered by a mysterious lack of grip in the opening race and could only finish fifth. In race two he shattered his own long-standing lap record around the Brands Hatch GP circuit as he set out to chase down early race leader Shane Byrne.
But disaster struck as he tucked the front on the entry to Surtees after halving the gap to Byrne. The crash ended Brookes’ hard charge into serious BSB championship contention.
“We had a package to fight for the wins this weekend,” said Brookes. “I was really disappointed with race one and the under-performance of the tyre and that’s probably why I didn’t use my head more in race two.
“I was able to do good lap times but I just tried too hard at the wrong point of the circuit. We’re all human and at the end of the day I made a mistake. I was in second looking at Shakey’s back wheel, but there’s nobody to blame but myself.”
Despite a disappointing weekend, Brookes has shown on several occasions this season that he can run with Byrne – even when the Be Wiser Ducati man is at his best. It wasn’t until this point in 2015 that the Aussie’s title tilt with Milwaukee Yamaha began. He went on to win an incredible 13 out of the last 16 races. And while that might not be as straight forward this time around, strong weekends at Thruxton and Cadwell, two circuits where he has dominated in the past, will put him in an extremely strong position.
“It’s crazy for people to think I’m not a contender,” he retorts when asked about his title chances. “Why wouldn’t I be? I was BSB champion in 2015. I haven’t lost that ability in one year away in WSB.
“The series has a good format that allows most riders on the grid to race at the front, especially with the Showdown system. I could be miles away from the front guys for the first six or seven rounds, but as long as I’m in the top six I’ve still got a chance.”
Brookes was hunting Shakey down in race two