British Superbikes Oulton Park: Brookes leads the way as rain stops play

Josh Brookes continued his upturn in fortunes as the weather took a turn for the worse to end day one of round two with another win to his credit.
Race One, Round Two, Oulton Park, Podium, 2023, Brookes, Irwin, Haslam
Race One, Round Two, Oulton Park, Podium, 2023, Brookes, Irwin, Haslam

The FHO BMW Racing Motorrad rider had secured pole earlier in the day with an impressive run on the dry line available.

‘ I desperately didn’t want to put my hand up!’

With a win already under red flag conditions the Australian was desperate not to feel like he had to be the one to raise his hand and call for the red flags again, but the sudden downpour which drenched the trophy handout on the podium shortly after proved that it was the right thing to go as the rain only got heavier.

Brookes explained:

“I could see the rain the lap before just starting on the visor and then when I came through Island bend on the next lap it was red flagged again, the rain became more noticeable on that part of the track.

I desperately didn’t want to put my hand up for the red flag, I wanted to race over the finish line, but I felt this horrible greasy sensation under the tyres and I just knew there was no chance to continue to race in those conditions”.


The rain had already made an impact on qualifying and left the track difficult to manage, the #25 added -

“Every time I tried to eke out a little tenth here or there almost every time the rear would spin and I’d have a moment and lose some time. I just focused on trying to be as methodical as possible and not make any mistakes, and not improve the lap time but maintain it.

At the rate I was going I was anticipating some kind of attack but it never came”.

‘As soon as I thought that I lost the rear!’

If Brookes was a little frustrated by how the race ended, the remaining podium duo were equally unsatisfied, wishing they could have made that attack he was waiting for for the win.

Leon Haslam rued the fact that he didn’t have enough grip to make the most of his rival hitting the rain first:

“It’s catch-22 obviously - safety is always first but when you see the rain coming and you’ve gpt to go until the red flag normally the guy who’s leading is hitting that danger first, so it’s an opportunity to try and gain or make a pass.

I thought ‘okay, I’ll have a go now…as soon as I thought that I lost the rear!”.

Though one of the most experienced riders in the paddock, this year is a learning curve for the #91 as he rides with his own ROKIT BMW Motorrad team - the second place is their first podium together. Perhaps the most positive of the trio, Haslam was happy to have learned a bit about the track in those conditions and his rivals on track:

“That’s the most laps we’ve done all weekend…all in all I learned a lot in that race, a few areas that I felt really strong and others I was losing quite a lot. The racer in me would always be a little bit mad that I didn’t manage to have a go for the lead but we’ve got two races tomorrow so fingers crossed we can go one better.”

‘I want to be winning races, I know I sound really frustrated!’

Glenn Irwin overcame a small blip where he lost ground to be a clear third when the rain came.

He too cut a frustrated figure, truly the buzzword of the day after the sprint race:

“It was a fun race , it’s always nice to be on a podium, for that I’m very, very happy - but at the same time quite frustrated.

The BeerMonster Ducati rider later added “I want to be winning races, I know I sound really frustrated right now but it’s good to be frustrated with third, that’s the mentality you need to win this championship.”

Speaking on how hard it was on track in the race the #2 was limited on where he could gain an advantage:

“There’s one or two passing opportunities but we need to be able to create more than one or two areas on the track where we can pass.

As the race was getting on I lost my rhythm - mid-race - and it came back to me. I could see Leon’s bike being a bit more unstable on corner entry, the rain didn’t really change anything - there wasn’t any passing going on - I think we were all stuck we all looked strong against each other in different areas, so homework tonight.

Last time Irwin did overnight ‘homework’ he came back on the Sunday and left a race winner.

Tommy Bridewell at Oulton Park 2023
Tommy Bridewell at Oulton Park 2023

All the overtaking the Ducati man didn’t see was behind him on the Cheshire track, with Peter Hickman in hot pursuit on the second FHO Racing bike in fourth from an eighth place start, Kyle Ryde moving from 16th to seventh and arguably the performance of the day from Tommy Bridewell who rose ten places from 15th to fifth at a rapid pace, earning him pole for race two on Monday.

With another win in his account Josh Brookes remains the early leader in the title hunt, with another 18 points accrued in the new points system , taking him to a healthy 66 overall.

Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell both sit nine points adrift on 57 after the ups and downs of the sprint race, with Irwin placed ahead courtesy of his win in Silverstone.

Kyle Ryde won the sprint at the first round but despite his hard work now sits fourth overall, with 48 points.

Haslam’s success sees him move closer to the number 77, just two points behind on 46.

JasonO’Halloran is now fifth following his spectacular sprint race exit, leaving his McAMS mechanics their own overnight homework to attend to.

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