Josh Brookes retained his King of Brands crown by claiming a stunning double victory at Brands Hatch at the fourth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, ensuring he’s in with a fighting chance of securing the Integro Triple Crown after winning the opening two of the six-race contest.
Brookes delivered a masterful performance in the first race of the weekend to stake his claim on the Integro Triple Crown. The race was declared wet, but with the potential of a drying track pole-sitter Scott Redding opted for an intermediate rear tyre and on lap one he dropped straight through the pack. Despite changing conditions during the race, the Donington Park triple race winner had to nurse his Be Wiser Ducati home in 22nd place.
Brookes was sitting eighth on the opening lap after a steady start off the line, but at the front Dan Linfoot was leading Tommy Bridewell before the pair changed positions on the second lap as the Oxford Racing Ducati rider emerged ahead.
Bridewell and Linfoot were inseparable as they continued to edge an advantage but then Linfoot was ready to try and make a break, passing his Ducati rival into Paddock Hill Bend on lap 15 to reclaim the lead as Brookes continued to carve his way up the order.
Brookes had dispensed with the pack ahead of him and was closing down the leading pair and by lap 17 the 2015 champion had bridged a nine-second gap from the midpoint of the race to tail Bridewell before making a move at Druids.
Brookes then had Linfoot in his sights with three laps remaining and a lap later he fired the Be Wiser Ducati ahead at Clearways to hit the front of the pack for the first time and then hold the advantage to the chequered flag. The win gives Brookes the first of the six race wins in the Integro Triple Crown and the chance to bag a potential £75,000 prize.
Linfoot became the eighth different podium finisher of the 2019 season to claim the first top three finish of the season for the Santander Salt TAG Yamaha team, with Bridewell crossing the line third to move to the top of the championship standings.
Danny Buchan had been another rider to scythe his way through the pack to move up into the top five before making a move on Peter Hickman with four laps to go to claim fourth place, with the Smiths Racing BMW rider completing the top five at the chequered flag.
The Tyco BMW pairing were battling for sixth place with Keith Farmer getting the better of his teammate Christian Iddon on the final lap and Jason O’Halloran dropping to eighth after starting the race in a potential podium position. The lone McAMS Yamaha rider had been running in third until the midpoint of the race, but he was forced to hold off an attack from Andrew Irwin on the leading Honda Racing Fireblade and Glenn Irwin on the Quattro Plant – JG Speedfit Kawasaki who completed the top ten.
At the start of race two Brookes launched off the line to lead the pack into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time ahead of Redding and Linfoot with Bridewell also in close contention. The Oxford Racing Ducati rider was on a mission and he made a move on race one podium finisher Linfoot on lap four to move into third with the Be Wiser Ducatis ahead of him.
Bridewell was pushing to make a move on Redding and by lap ten he was on his back wheel, with the Donington Park triple race winner running wide into Paddock Hill Bend, giving Bridewell the opportunity he needed to take the advantage into Druids.
Bridewell was reeling in Brookes and shadowing him for the lead but it wasn’t enough for the 2015 champion to be displaced from the lead and he withstood the pressure from his championship rival to take the chequered flag first and claim the Bennetts Rewards King of Brands title.
Redding was able to return to the podium after the disappointment of race one in third place but behind there was another intense battle between Buchan and Linfoot with the FS3-Racing Kawasaki rider taking the place at half race distance and holding off the Santander Salt TAG Yamaha to the finish.
Iddon was embroiled in a battle of the BMWs from which he emerged the victor, getting the better of Hickman and Farmer after a race-long duel with the Tyco BMW pairing split by the Smiths Racing BMW.
O’Halloran was ninth on the sole McAMS Yamaha with Glenn Irwin holding off Luke Mossey, Andrew Irwin and Xavi Forés for tenth place. It was a disappointing race for Brands Hatch local Bradley Ray who crashed out unhurt at Hawthorns.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race 1 result:
- Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati)
- Dan Linfoot (Santander Salt TAG Yamaha) +1.736s
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) +5.224s
- Danny Buchan (FS3-Racing Kawasaki) +6.305s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +9.836s
- Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW) +16.521s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +17.150s
- Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +17.743s
- Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing) +17.934s
- Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant – JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +22.406s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race 2 result:
- Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati)
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) +0.238s
- Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) +10.248s
- Danny Buchan (FS3-Racing Kawasaki) +14.024s
- Dan Linfoot (Santander Salt TAG Yamaha) +15.568s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +16.899s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +18.364s
- Keith Farmer (Tyco BMW) +19.926s
- Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +22.138s
- Glenn Irwin (Quattro Plant – JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +27.223s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings after Knockhill:
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) 145
- Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) 131
- Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) 124
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) 108
- Danny Buchan (FS3-Racing Kawasaki) 94
- Xavi Forés (Honda Racing) 75
Josh Brookes – Be Wiser Ducati
Double race winner
“It’s great to get a couple of wins towards that big cash prize but I’ve got to be focused on the championship – that’s my main concern, main goal, my main focus, I’m championship orientated so that’s why I’m most pleased with today’s results.
“It’s been a tough weekend. Fortunately I’ve been able to be at the front for most of the weekend, most of the sessions, and that final race I got away to a good start, pulled a small gap for a few laps and then it snuck out to about 1.5 I got on my board and I was thinking ‘okay, this is good, I might be able to control the race and not have to risk too much and not destroy the tyres too much and just work with that’.
“And then all of a sudden my board showed Tom was second and then that I only had .3 of a gap so that plan had to be dropped, and I started going quicker and quicker.
“On our bikes it shows our best lap time we’ve done, so you each lap you can use that as a reference whether you’re going quicker than your previous best lap or slower – and I was almost exactly zeros on the dash almost every lap.
“If I did make a little mistake in the early part of the lap and lost a couple of tenths, I just tried harder and squeezed a bit more out and got it back at the end of the lap. Even doing that Tom just stayed with me the whole race, like he said our bikes are so evenly matched.
“Everything I tried to do to break away from him, he could match it with his speed. I was thinking to myself, as long I don’t make any mistakes he can’t ride faster, he can’t physically make something happen different than what we’re already doing. I did actually make once mistake, but it was a bit earlier in the race and he wasn’t able to capitalise on that.
“Fortunate to get the win and bring it home, it was really a tough race and he pushed me to the end and to get the King of Brands trophy again is great.”