Josh Brookes smashes lap record to beat Byrne to the top on opening day of official Snetterton test
Josh Brookes smashed his own lap record on the opening day of the official MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship test at Snetterton, setting a blistering pace 0.706s under the existing record to fire the Milwaukee Yamaha to the top of the times.
Brookes had set the fastest lap of the session in the early stages but the battle at the top raged between the Australian and defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne. The four-time title-winner upped the pace to knock his fierce rival from the top of the times and also lap under the circuit record, but then was forced to retire his PBM Kawasaki at Montreal with a technical problem.
Brookes then went back on circuit for his final run in the closing minutes of the session and with a determined lap set an incredible pace to move back ahead of Byrne and claim the top spot for the Milwaukee Yamaha team.
As the pair battled for the top spot, Jakub Smrz again proved that Snetterton will be a strong track for the Moto Rapido Ducati, moving back inside the top three towards the end of the session.
Jason O’Halloran climbed back into fourth place for Honda Racing, whilst team-mates Julien Da Costa and Jenny Tinmouth both crashed unhurt this afternoon. The Australian contender was closed down by fellow countryman Broc Parkes as he moved into the top five for the first time today on the second of the Milwaukee Yamahas.
Parkes last session improvement pushed championship leader James Ellison into sixth place for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team, just ahead of Danny Buchan on the Be Wiser Kawasaki and Howie Mainwaring for Quattro Plant Kawasaki. Stuart Easton on the second of the PBM Kawasakis completed the top ten.
Josh Brookes – “We had a new tank to test here – at the start of the races it has been difficult and we can’t afford to give anything away or give the other guys a breather at the beginning of the race. If you take that into consideration you think it should only be the start of the race that is affected, but as it turns out the bike is better in every way anyway just by putting the fuel tank on and having the centre mass more centralised and it improved the feeling of the bike. It felt more stable and I had good results from it.
“I had some front tyre slide moments and then I handed it back to the crew and we made some more improvements and then we went 0.7s faster again straight away. We made some changes for better feel to give me that confidence back and then the last run was a lot better. It all has been really positive and we have had a really good day at the office.
“It took me by surprise to have such an improvement as my initial thoughts were that it might not be any better with say 10 litres of fuel in it, but I was confident it would make the difference for the start of the race when you have 18 litres and that was when I was struggling before. It really changed the bike and it was nice to feel the difference.
“Every lap you are always pushing so I don’t want to say that I wasn’t pushing but having said that the bike tends to like being ridden in a more reserved fashion, I don’t tend to get so much out of shape on this one like I would have done on years before because of the nature of the bike as it is a very precise machine. It can’t be ragged around, you have to set everything up although I can be more experimental with different lines which is good but in general I have to ride smooth and relaxed. I was pushing to make the lap but I was riding in a relaxed and calm way to do it too, so I am happy with that and we can look forward to tomorrow now.”
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