Round 10 of the Superbike World Championship will be held at the latest version of the classic Silverstone circuit this weekend, with British-based Aussie hotshot Josh Brookes set to join compatriots Troy Corser and Broc Parkes on the startline.
Brookes, from Bringelly on the outskirts of Sydney, is currently running a close second in this year’s British Superbike Championship on a factory Honda, and will compete at Silverstone as a wildcard alongside HM Plant Honda teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Just last month Brookes completed the ideal warm-up for the World Superbike cameo when he clean swept the British Superstock 1000 title round at Silverstone.
The inclusion of Brookes will provide a short-term boost in quality Aussie stocks, especially now that Queenslander Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki) will be sitting out the rest of the year with injury. Vermeulen recently underwent surgery on his damaged right knee in Barcelona.
As for Corser (BMW), he slipped back to seventh in the championship in the last round at Brno after a big qualifying crash saw him sit out the rest of the meeting with heavy bruising.
Since then, he’s been working hard on his fitness, and a test at Mugello yesterday confirmed he’ll be ready for action at Silverstone.
“I’m looking forward to Silverstone. I spend a fair amount of the year in Great Britain and expect to see a lot of family friends at the track, so it will be something of a second home race for me,” said Corser.
“I’ve already had a chance to take a look around the new track. The new layout looks very good and surface grip seems pretty consistent. There are a few bumps, especially where the new asphalt has been laid.
“I’m expecting us to do a good job here with our bike; we’ve done a lot of work on chassis set-up and the bumps shouldn’t be a particularly big problem. Engine power is a major factor at Silverstone, as the circuit has several long straights.
“There are also a handful of long, sweeping corners, which load up the tyres on one side, so it’s important to have a good throttle connection.”
For Brookes, the opportunity comes at an ideal time in his career as he looks to make a fulltime return to WSBK competition.
“This weekend my approach and preparation will be no different to the BSB rounds as I am going there to do the best job we can,” Brookes said.
“I don’t have any expectations in terms of results before we go to Silverstone – we know we are a winning team in BSB and between myself and Kiyo we have won eight races and had another several other podium finishes so far this year, so it will be a good experience to see how we compare to the world championship teams.
“It is a great opportunity for the whole HM Plant Honda team and having already raced in WSB, it feels natural to be back racing in that paddock this weekend. I just want to get the best results I can.”
Parkes is another who intends to improve in the coming rounds, still recovering from injury sustained in the pre-season.
“It’s been quiet since Brno but I have been training and cycling to get ready for the next round,” Parkes said. “Hopefully we can get in the points again when we get to Silverstone. Our bike has been back on the dyno and the team reckons they have found some good things, and I hope we can get those improvements to work on the track.
“I enjoyed the old Silverstone layout and the new one looks even better. It seems like a bit of a horsepower circuit again but there are a few corners to allow you to make up time.”
The WSBK title has been to Silverstone on six previous occasions, the most recent in 2007 when only one race took place due to relentless rain that flooded the track before race two could get underway.
This year’s Silverstone is a very different venue from previous versions, with massive investment in both a heavily modified circuit layout and infrastructure improvements resulting in a 5.902km circuit where speed is a key element.
The revised circuit has an average speed just a fraction slower than Phillip Island, something that championship leader Max Biaggi will relish on his ultra fast Aprilia.
Biaggi has a massive 68 point lead with four rounds remaining, and Briton Leon Haslam (Suzuki) also holds a huge cushion over third-placed Jonathan Rea (Honda). If Biaggi maintains his searing form, he may wrap up the championship in round 11 at Nurburgring on 5 September.
Haslam and Rea are but two of the seven British riders in this year’s championship, and they’ll be pushing hard to win in front of a partisan home crowd alongside the likes of Yamaha pair Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland and Leon Camier (Aprilia).
Other potential race winners include Ducati duo Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio and Spain’s Carlos Checa (Ducati).
The World Supersport event will continue the absorbing battle between Kenan Sofuoglu, (Honda), Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) and Eugene Laverty (Honda), with a batch of wildcards including South Australian Billy McConnell also keen to put their names up in lights.