Thruxton BSB: Title fight wide open
Fast Aussie loses out on dream double after penultimate lap crash
Josh Brookes and Anvil Hire Yamaha were on course for a fairytale double at Thruxton this weekend right up until the moment the Aussie dramatically crashed out of the lead of the second race.
Brookes was in imperious form in the opening encounter as he seemed to cruise comfortably to his first race victory since leaving the series as champion in 2015. An intelligent ride in race two saw him bide his time before pouncing on his rivals to take the lead and it all looked set to go his way until he tucked the front on the penultimate lap, handing victory to Smiths BMW’S Peter Hickman.
The crash is his second in as many rounds after he also lost the front while chasing down Shane Byrne for the lead at Brands Hatch last time out, but the 2015 champion is adamant the crash wasn’t down to him pushing too hard this time.
“Right now I’m in that moment where I’m hoping I’m going to wake up and it’s all a bad dream,” a devastated Brookes told MCN after the race. “I’ve had answers for every crash I’ve ever had. At Brands Hatch, I was pushing too hard. I’ll hold my hands up to that. I was trying to run lap record pace every lap to catch Shakey and I fell. That was my fault, but I just cannot understand what happened here.
“I had a perfect gap, it wasn’t so big that I started to lose concentration and make mistakes and it wasn’t so small that I could be pressured into one. I thought I had just enough to bring it home with a lap-and-a-half to go. The bike felt good, I had no warning. It was bizarre. The data shows I was slightly wide in the corner before but I was back in position by the time I’d got to the corner where I crashed. This is going to haunt me for a long time.”
Despite his race two DNF, Brookes’ status as a championship challenger is now plain to see. Although he currently sits fifth in the standings he’s shown the pace to win and consistently run at the front.
“It’s not just winning that feels good, it’s the change from not winning” he said. “It’s almost like I became a little complacent in 2015. I’d won so many races I started to expect it and you shouldn’t in this game as I’ve just shown with the crash. But that said, we’ve shown we’ve got the pace to challenge for the championship and that’s what we’re going to do, but if it’s not my year, it’s not my year!”
With the questions surrounding the pedigree of the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha team now answered, Brookes says he’s confident the bike is in a good place but refuses to rest on his laurels as the Showdown approaches.
“The bike is very good to ride and I think in years gone by it could have dominated. But this year it’s so competitive that you can’t dominate. Yes, we’re in a good place with the bike now but we can’t just take that and sit still. Nobody else is going to do that so we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas and keep finding improvements.”