Two determined challenges from Shane Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari couldn’t halt Josh Brookes who scored his maiden double victory of the 2014 British Superbike Championship with two hard-fought wins at
|Brookes held off his main rivals to do the double in Hampshire
Photo: Milwaukee Yamaha
Coming off a fine fourth place finish at the Suzuka 8-Hour event in Japan, Brookes was untouchable in the first outing, pulling clear of a hotly contested battle for second to cross the line 4.3 seconds ahead of Byrne and Kiyonari. With a red flag reducing the second race to 15 laps the Australian chose to bide his time before making an astonishing charge through the order – passing three riders in one lap – at mid-distance to go first, a position he narrowly held to the flag.
Ryuichi Kiyonari ran Byrne close for second on both occasions to take a pair of battling third places, the second of which was just 0.4 seconds behind the winner, continuing his fine run of form. Brookes´ fifty point haul from the Hampshire track cements his ´Showdown´ position and takes him to within 82 points of Byrne in the standings.
“It´s a pleasure to be up here again,” said Brookes after clinching his third victory of the season. “It´s brilliant. The second race was so much harder than the first. I could see Shakey and Dan [Linfoot] at the front and I kept wanting to leave some space. I left a little breather, then kept getting overtaken. I thought Id have to throw caution to the wind and hoped when I got to the front I could control it. I knew it would come down to the last lap and I rode a fairly perfect lap. We didn´t make any changes to the bike after qualifying, it was great today.”
The high speed Thruxton circuit, with an average Superbike lap speed of 110mph, is accustomed to hosting closely fought racing but Brookes made a mockery of that in race one by taking the lead with 13 laps remaining and dominating from the front. It was left to Byrne, Kiyonari and early leader Linfoot to provide the entertainment in a hectic scrap for second. The Buildbase BMW rider climbed from a lowly qualifying to climb through the top ten and close to within touching distance of Byrne on the final lap. The championship leader was briefly relegated to third through Cobb but responded instantly to retake the position at the Club chicane for 20 valuable points.
Linfoot held on for an impressive fourth on his Quattro Plant Kawasaki with Tommy Bridewell fast closing in after another slow getaway. The Englishman was left cursing some over-exuberant moves which stunted his progress in the early laps.
Bridewell´s afternoon got worse when his Milwaukee Yamaha suffered terminal engine failure at the close of lap five in the second race, bringing out red flags as marshals cleared oil from the track. With the restart run over 15 laps, Chris Walker threw his name into the ring by getting away with early leaders Byrne, Linfoot and Brookes. With Brookes choosing to watch affairs at the front from the back of the group, Kiyonari soon closed in to pounce.
It was the wake up call the Australian needed. He moved past Kiyonari at the chicane on lap five before scything past Linfoot, Walker and Byrne in the blinking of an eye some confident moves through the first and last chicanes. Brookes had eked his lead out to 0.4 seconds by lap twelve but Byrne and Kiyonari would rally again to ensure a tense final lap. The Australian eventually held on by 0.2 seconds at the chequered flag.
“In the greater scheme of things we scored 40 points and two second places today,” said a frustrated Byrne after race two. “With the weekend we´ve had we should be ecstatic. But i rode my heart out in that second race. At the end I tried to pass Josh at the chicane and had to let the brakes off to avoid him. He rode awesome all weekend. Let´s hope we can get this turned around for next week.”
Unsurprisingly Kiyonari was also frustrated at his inability to overcome Byrne in the second race. “I dont know how many laps were left and I try to pass Shakey. I had the chance on the back straight but i was scared to pass. I need to be more strong on braking. I´m not too happy but if I can push more hard I can win. I´ll try to win the next race next week.” Kiyonari now sits third overall on 139 points.
Dan Linfoot´s two fourth places demonstrated his ability to run at the front once again, leapfrogging Tommy Bridewell for the final ´Showdown’ place in the process. After an excellent getaway Chris Walker came home fifth in race two ahead of a frenetic battle for sixth won by Jon Kirkham. The results mean Linfoot and Walker are now tied on 116 points, just eight behind James Ellison, who missed the round through injury.
The battle for the ´Showdown´places resumes next week for the seventh round of the season at Oulton Park.