Brookes romps to victory from 13th
6 August 2011
Josh Brookes has taken his first MCE British Superbike Championship win as a Relentless by TAS Suzuki rider after a superb victory from 13th position on the grid in tricky weather conditions.
Having struggled for pace during qualifying, Brookes only started from the fourth row of the grid, but an aggressive start saw him up into third by the end of the opening lap, the Australian proceeding to snatch the lead on lap three.
Brookes's win was made partly possible by the arrival of rain minutes before the start of the race, forcing teams into adopting a wide variety of different tyre combinations.
As expected, the opening bends favoured those who had taken a wet tyre on the front, with WSBK wild-card Joan Lascorz leading initially, before Shane Byrne moved ahead on lap two.
However, the surface quickly became 'intermediate', with both Lascorz and Byrne promptly swallowed up by those behind as it became immediately clear they had opted for the incorrect tyres.
They weren't alone, with Tommy Hill, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Broc Parkes among those to also play it safe with a wet tyre, each one eventually peeling into the pit lane to undergo a lengthy change that would put them a lap down and out of contention.
With several victory contenders down the order, Brookes had stepped up into the lead, the Australian's choice of intermediates proving ideal as he moved ahead on lap three and built an early advantage.
John Hopkins initially found himself on the other side of that gap, though a feisty Gary Mason would eventually find his way past the Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider on lap seven.
Hopkins would then find himself in a fierce battle for third with another Kawasaki rider, this time Chris Walker, the Pr1mo rider using his experience to challenge the title contender for a top three finish.
However, neither rider would achieve a rostrum result as they fell foul to a late charge from Michael Rutter, whose risk to take his tyre choice the other way and opt for a slick rear was paying dividends in the closing stages.
Indeed, the Rapid Bathams Ducati rider came from some margin back to catch and pass both Walker and Hopkins with just four laps remaining, before rolling up to the back of Mason and overtaking the Kawasaki rider at the start of the final lap.
Another example of fine riding in tricky weather conditions, Rutter may have fancied his chances of victory had he the luxury of two more laps, but he would have to settle for a still superb second, two seconds behind a delighted Brookes, who goes a long way to securing his place in the title shootout with this win.
Rutter and Mason rounded out the podium, the latter scoring only his second career rostrum to date, to improve their chances of a spot in the top six, the pair now seventh and eighth overall.
Hopkins fended off Walker to claim fourth, a good result compared to his title rivals, but not enough to add to the all-important podium credits.
A steadily improving James Westmoreland enjoyed a quiet ride to sixth, the Motorpoint Yamaha rider just getting the better of Graeme Gowland in the closing stages. Gowland had run with the leaders in the early laps as he held down a high of fourth, but while he would fade to seventh at the chequered flag, it remained a very dominant EVO class win.
Michael Laverty crossed the line an unspectacular eighth, ahead of Jon Kirkham and Glen Richards on the second of the WFR Hondas.
Indeed, all top fifteen finishers were those that didn't require a pit-stop for new tyres, with Ian Lowry, Patric Muff, Dan Kneen, Jake Zemke and Barry Burrell all securing points for their troubles.
With fastest lap in race one securing pole position for race two, those that did pit at least had the chance of improving their chances tomorrow. As such, the front row is made up of those that came in for slick rubber, with Hill securing pole again, ahead of Lascorz, Byrne and Kiyonari.
Rutter, Peter Hickman, Alex Lowes and Parkes make up row two, while John Hopkins has it all to do from 12th on the grid. Ironically, the man to really lose out is Brookes, whose fastest lap on the way to victory was only good enough for 13th – the exact position he started race one.