BSB 2011 – Round 12 – Brands Hatch GP
Brookes fastest on day one of BSB final showdown
Josh Brookes put in a scorching final lap to top Friday afternoon’s official test session at Brands Hatch as he prepared his Relentless Suzuki by TAS for the weekend’s final triple header round of the Showdown for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown.
The Aussie who lies third in the standings underlined his intentions to repeat his victory at the circuit back in August by lapping the Indy circuit fastest ahead of the three decisive races which will be fought out on the full Grand Prix circuit.
Brookes ran marginally faster than the two riders who go in to the races trailing him by just three points, Michael Laverty aboard a Swan Yamaha and former two times winner of the title HM Plant Honda’s Shane Byrne – after 45 minutes of hard riding, there was just 0.156secs between them.
The importance of the test for Brookes was that he was able to put miles under his belt on a bike that had been further developed by his team as he explained: “The boys had fine-tuned the bike a little to find some more horsepower. I’m carrying some decent confidence. The weekend really kicks off on Saturday which is going to be a big intense day, then on Sunday it is the normal two races and we’ll be looking for more wins.”
Brookes is currently third in the standings, 33 points down on second in the title stakes Tommy Hill, riding the Swan Yamaha, and a further eight points down on the series leading American rider John Hopkins aboard the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki.
Hill was the faster of the two in the test session, though by only 0.009secs, and he is focussed on setting the record straight at his local circuit. This time last year the Lingfield rider came close to taking the crown only to crash disastrously out of contention at the final hurdle at Oulton Park.
Hill is quietly confident and dealing with the pressures well as he explained: “I am trying to be more relaxed compared to how I was ahead of the final round of last season. I know I am mentally ready for these races.
“I hope people understand that I crashed last year because of how hard I was fighting and how much I wanted to win the BSB title. I will be coming out fighting as hard as I can to win again this weekend and hopefully that will be enough to be the 2011 champion,” added Hill who enjoyed a winning ride on the Grand Prix circuit earlier in the season.
Hopkins who is bidding to become the first American to take the British crown took a second and a third place in that round and is equally as prepared as Hill for the final showdown especially now the injured finger that has dogged him in the previous two rounds is healing well.
Hopkins said: “The points gap that I have is a great advantage but not really a comfort, the strategy still has to be ‘race to win’, anything less and we won’t have the championship. There’s mental pressure as well, but it’s nothing new to me, nothing I can’t deal with.”
Graeme Gowland continued his impressive second half of the season run of form aboard the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class WFR Honda setting the fourth fastest time in the test session in which his team-mate Glen Richards who has already taken the title ran second fastest in class and eighth overall.