Australia’s Josh Brookes enjoyed a winning ride last time out at Cadwell Park and now the HM Plant Honda rider is dialled in for an action replay after setting the pace in opening free practice for the Holiday Monday ninth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at the Lincolnshire circuit.
Refreshed from a break back home with his family, Brookes is aiming for double top in these races to take the lead in the title stakes and he showed that determination by running half a second faster than the rest, who were led by MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider Simon Andrews.
“I want two good races so I can get back to the top of the standings,” said Brookes, currently third overall in the points, adding “going back home for a holiday always sparks me up.” That was underlined as he powered in a lap of 1:27.945.
Andrews surprised the front-runners in the title chase with his consistent speed across the two sessions, topping the first leaderboard, and in each he was marginally faster than the series leading, former two-time British champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, who like his teammate Brookes was a winner at Cadwell Park in the fourth round.
Kiyonari’s best lap came in 1:28.607, just 0.018 up on the rider whom he leads by seven points in the standings,Tommy Hill, aboard the Worx Crescent Suzuki. Brookes goes into the races three points down on Hill.
Michael Rutter was fifth fastest, with a lap in 1:28.693 on the RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati, some 0.277 up on Gary Mason aboard the second MSS Colchester Kawasaki with Yukio Kagayama easing his Worx Suzuki into seventh place at the expense of Relentless Suzuki’s Michael Laverty.
These races come at a crucial time in the championship, with the top six in the standings qualifying for the ‘Showdown’ over the final seven races of the season. Already, Kiyonari, Hill, Brookes, Rutter and Michael Laverty are title-fighters, with three riders scrapping for the one remaining place.
They face an intense duel for supremacy. Stuart Easton, aboard the Swan Honda, was the fastest of them with a lap in 1:29.306, but, the Flying Scot knows that he needs to take race wins to have a realistic chance of making the cut. John Laverty riding Buildbase Kawasaki, was just down on Easton, 1:29.602 while Alastair Seeley, the rider currently occupying the sixth place in the points standings, lapped in 1:29.867.
After these races, the top six riders have their current points scores cancelled, and replaced with 500 points each, to which are added “podium credit” points reflecting their top three finishes across the opening 19 races of the series, adding to the determination of Brookes to win at his Louth based team’s local circuit.
Steve Brogan reckons he is well placed to take the lead in the chase for the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class having run fastest in class in both sessions, with his best lap aboard the Jentin BMW coming in 1m 30.439.
The Liverpudlian goes into the races two points down on Splitlath Aprilia rider Hudson Kennaugh who had a tough time, putting in a best time of 1:32.748 midway through a second session spoiled by a brief rain shower.