Josh Brookes snatched the pole start for the penultimate round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship with a scorching lap of the Silverstone Arena Grand Prix circuit by just a tenth of a second over his Title Fighter rival Michael Rutter.
Riding the HM Plant Honda, Brookes is keen to make amends for a lack lustre performance in the previous round at Croft that left him in fourth place in the title stakes, 28 points down on the series leading Tommy Hill, and with the Worx Suzuki rider starting from the second row, the Australian is feeling confident.
For Brookes, these are “must win races” and after strong performances in Saturday morning free practice and then the Swan Combi Roll for Pole, he is feeling confident: “The bike was at its best in that final session – we have been working through the weekend making small changes and all that was left was for me to go out and put a lap together.”
The competition in the final element of the grid decider was strong, and Brookes was under pressure: “I saw P4 on my pit signal board and didn’t like that, and maybe I was trying too hard and needed to relax a little. I did that, let the bike get on, and I am really happy to have the pole start.
“I have to got out and take victories here after the previous round at Croft that was far from satisfactory for me. Wins are all that I can focus on, and, here we have done a lot of laps on used tyres with good times and that gives me confidence that the bike will be good all of the way through to the end of the races,” added Brookes after his lap in a time of 2m 06.215secs.
Rutter, fifth in the title standings, aboard the RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati, was far from disappointed at having to settle for second best in qualifying. “We’ve been struggling all weekend with set-up but seem to have it right for the races in which I cannot afford any slip up like in the first race at Croft – I’m still kicking myself for that! Now, I’ve got to go out there for race wins.”
Michael Laverty, a race winner last time out on the Relentless Suzuki, set the third best time, 2m 06.475secs, as he settled into rhythm to go for the lead in the championship, starting in second place overall in the standings, 16 points down on Hill. “I’m happy with a front row start, though we have a few things to work on and there is a bit more to come from the bike – I want at least one win here.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari, the former two times winner of the British crown, completed the front row on the second HM Plant Honda, despite a tumble at Farm on the final lap while series leading Hill, who had tumbled heavily at the same corner during the morning free practice session, was a second row starter for the first time this season, sixth fastest, 2m 07.001secs, marginally down on 17 year old French rider Loris Baz who slid off his Motorpoint Yamaha at the Loop in the final element of the Roll for Pole.
Alastair Seeley, the sixth of the Title Fighters, struggled to match the pace, starting his Relentless Suzuki from the fourth row of the grid, 14th fastest, while James Hillier, riding the Bournemouth Kawasaki, was the fastest of the qualifiers in the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO Class, ahead of Craig Fitzpatrick, Hudson Kennaugh and the series leading Jentin BMW rider Steve Brogan.