Brookes prevails in breathtaking tussle
25 September 2011
Josh Brookes has taken a second MCE British Superbike Championship win of the season after emerging victorious in an occasionally heart-stopping exchange between himself and his four title rivals.
An outstanding display of close riding, Brookes, together with John Hopkins, Michael Laverty, Tommy Hill, Shane Byrne, Peter Hickman and Jon Kirkham, battled hard for the leading positions, the group of seven barely separated from start to finish.
Indeed, four riders would share the lead over the course of the race before Brookes eventually pushed to the front, the Australian – who had started from pole position – arguably having to work the hardest after dropping as low as seventh at one stage.
At this point it was race one winner Hopkins that led the way having edged ahead of initial leader Michael Laverty on the first lap. However, the American was unable to stretch them out, Hopkins falling victim to a charging Shane Byrne on lap five as he slipped up the inside at Stowe.
Similarly though, Byrne was not the rider capable of breaking the tow, with Hopkins simply coming back through again on lap seven. By this stage, Brookes was up to fourth place after dispatching of Laverty, the Ulsterman having slipped behind his team-mate Tommy Hill after making an error on lap six.
Brookes's 'relentless' charge would haul him up to third on lap eight after Byrne was forced to sit up in avoidance of hitting Hopkins at the end of the Hangar Straight. It was enough to quell his momentum and he wouldn't return to the lead fight.
Up ahead, Hill nudged ahead of a race for the first time this weekend as he dived through on the entrance to Village on lap nine. Brookes followed through, only for Hopkins to snatch back the initiative by the end of the lap.
However, Brookes tried again on lap ten, mimicking Hill by passing Hopkins for second at Village and setting off in pursuit of Hill.
During this time, the seven remained closely matched, each jostling for position, without once making contact with one another.
The defining moment of the race eventually came on lap eleven when Brookes's unorthodox line around Vale, where he runs deep into the entry, wide on the exit and tight around the ensuing long right-hander, paid dividends as he held out Hill long enough to slip underneath him.
Taking charge of the race, Brookes proceeded to open up a margin that no-one else had been capable of doing before, the order staying static until the red flag was dropped on the final lap due to Chris Walker's Pr1mo Kawasaki expiring on the home straight.
It meant Brookes was able to celebrate his second win of the year, while Hill clawed back some ground on third place Hopkins in the fight for the title, the pair split by eight points in Hopkins's favour with three races remaining.
Brookes's win moves him into third place, albeit 41 points behind Hopkins, while Laverty and Byrne, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, are tied on points in fourth and fifth.
Behind the top five, Kirkham and Hickman settled for sixth and seventh in a convincing display of frontline riding, the pair well ahead of eighth place Michael Rutter on the Rapid Bathams Ducati. Tommy Bridewell and Dan Linfoot completed the top ten, ahead of Graeme Gowland, Alex Lowes, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Gary Mason and Ian Lowry.
Meanwhile, two second place finishes means Glen Richards is the 2011 British Superbike EVO Champion, a result that also signals a first title for BSB debutants WFR Honda.