Thruxton BSB preview
Lap record- holder Josh Brookes gets set to shine at super-fast circuit
‘You’re constantly changing gear, throttle open on the side of the tyre’ JOSH BROOKES
The MCE British Superbike Championship heads to the fastest circuit on the calendar this weekend with the super-quick, flowing Thruxton playing host to the seventh round of the championship.
The 2.36-mile circuit presents a unique challenge as riders cover the distance with an average speed of 124mph – one of the highest average speeds of any circuit in the world, including Motogp.
“Thruxton is unique,” explains lap record holder Josh Brookes, who took the double victory at the Hampshire circuit last time he raced there on his way to the 2015 BSB title. “When people outside the UK ask what my favourite circuit is and I reply with Thruxton they’re like, ‘Where?!’.
“There’s a theme, or a style, to British circuits. They’re old style, often considered more dangerous than international circuits, but Thruxton is different. It’s so wide, it feels like it’s three times the width of most BSB circuits when you’re used to riding at the narrow Oulton, Cadwell and even Brands.
“Thruxton feels more like Brno! Typcial UK circuits have a lot of slower corners, first and secondgear stuff. It’s all about a short blast of power and then getting back on the brakes again. At Thruxton you spend more time in third, fourth, fifth and sixth gear. You’re constantly going through the gears, throttle open while on the side of the tyre.”
The airfield circuit, which still has an active runway inside its perimiter, is notorious for shredding tyres, as you’d expect when riders are covering 2.3 miles in 74 seconds, making it a thinking rider’s circuit. While the balls-out approach is undoubtedly the fastest way around Thruxton on a single lap, it’s not necessarily the key to a race victory.
“The track surface is so different to anywhere else,” says Brookes. “It’s super-abrasive and I hope they never change it! It adds an element that means you can’t just rely on riding skill and technique, you have to use your brain, too. You need to be
able to decide when is the right time to push, or hold back and save the tyre.
“You really have to learn how your bike is behaving with the tyres in practice to be able to do well. It’s not as simple as going as quick as possible.
“You start to worry about some riders as they’ve got insane speed in practice, but then you see them in the race they can only do three or four laps before dropping off. On the other hand, I often look slow to start at Thruxton before coming strong in the race, but that’s because I’m working on race strategy in practice and qualifying. That’s important everywhere, but it’s on another level at Thruxton.”
Brookes’ enjoyment of Thruxton is a good prospect for the championship with the Aussie having been building pace over the last two rounds. At Snet- terton, he finished second to Be Wiser Ducati’s Shane Byrne twice before going on to show pace as quick if not quicker than the series leader at Brands Hatch before crashing out. If things go well at Thruxton, it could be the launch of a strong and sustainable title attack.
“We took our first win at Brands in 2015, but then went on to Thruxton and cemented our challenge with another double,” Brookes adds. “I’m hoping there can be a similar pattern this year!”