Josh Brookes smashes the current lap record to claim Assen pole position
Josh Brookes smashed the current Assen circuit lap record to take his fourth pole position of the season ahead of tomorrow’s opening Showdown round as he bids to extend his two point lead in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings.
The Australian had set the pace throughout the weekend and when it came to Datatag Qualifying the Milwaukee Yamaha turned up the heat on his rivals with a remarkable lap of 1m 35.971s as his closest rival in the standings, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne qualified fifth.
Title Fighter James Ellison, who has signed a contract extension to ride for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team through into next season, starts alongside Brookes on the front of the grid which is completed by former MotoGP contender John Hopkins. The American set an impressive pace to claim the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati team their first front row start of the season.
Michael Laverty has come out fighting in the Showdown and he leapt above Tommy Bridewell and Dan Linfoot to claim the fourth best time on the Tyco BMW. He lines up on the second row with MCE BSB rookie Danny Buchan riding the Be Wiser Kawasaki and Luke Mossey who crashed his Quattro Plant Kawasaki moments earlier in the session.
Jack Kennedy, who also crashed in the final session, was eighth fastest on the Team WD40 Kawasaki, heading off Bridewell on the second Tyco BMW who with a third row start faces an uphill struggle to maintain his title hopes, as does Honda’s Dan Linfoot who starts from the fifth row.
Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) – Championship leader: 553 points – Qualifying position: 1st – “I was coming into this event with some confidence and having ridden here earlier in the year on the different spec bike meant I had a good idea of where we could be and when I was doing 1m:37s I thought that might be where we levelled off. What I thought was already a fairly well prepared bike, and one I was confident with, the team chopped and changed it a bit and we found some extra tenths so the team really delivered it for me. To go out and do a 1m:35.9 is even a surprise to me. Sure I had to ride the bike, hold the handle bars and push the tyres but the team have stepped up a level this weekend and it is perfect timing.”
Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) – Second in the standings: 551 – Qualifying position: 5th – “It’s been a little bit difficult so far this weekend, because obviously this circuit is so different from the UK tracks. It’s not helping that pretty much every session we get is wet to start with and then you get ten minutes of banzai riding over damp patches at the end of it! We’ve got a bit more work to do; we tried some stuff through qualifying and while it’s easy to sit here and say we’ve got more pace that we haven’t shown yet, I think it’s not quite the massive trauma that it looks like at the minute. That said, we’re going to try something pretty big for tomorrow. We’re ok in the first sector, there or thereabouts in the last sector; it’s just the middle bit – all those long, hanging corners are really hurting us. I sit there almost getting frustrated riding around them, because I know what I need to do but at the minute I can’t do it. We’ll keep chipping away in warm-up, get a good start in the race, and set the homing beacon off! I sacrificed some of qualifying to get a better set-up for the race. It wasn’t the intention – not how it was meant to pan out – and while a front row start would have been the ideal scenario, the second row is absolutely fine. It puts us in the mix. There’s a few guys who will be able to do one or two fast laps at the start, but these races are eighteen laps, and I’m not too despondent!”
James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) – Third in the standings: 522 – Qualifying position: 2nd – “I’m peaking with that. The aim yesterday was to get a front row if we wanted any chance of fighting with Josh tomorrow. Having Shakey behind is a bonus as well, because he’s our closest rival and he’s still fighting for the title. Some people may have written me off, but it’s not over yet. I know Josh has been dominant for the last few rounds, but I was like that at the start of the season before the injury. We missed a few rounds because of the injury which hasn’t helped, but the team have stuck by me through it all, and to be signed with them already for next year for me is the icing on the cake. The wrist feels ok out on the bike because I’m focused on the lap and the lap timer, but off the bike it still hurts, walking around and picking things up it hurts. It is a hindrance, but I’ve learnt to ride around it and I’ve had to adapt my riding style to compensate it. Josh is quick, but he’s beatable, I’ve beat him before. He’s on a good run at the minute and his bike is working well, so I’ve just got to keep digging deep and plugging away at it. I normally go quicker in the race than I do in qualifying, my qualifying time from today is going to be hard to beat but I know that I’ll be running quick times in the race and I’ll be up there with the front boys. It’s important to keep Shakey behind us tomorrow, we have to keep both Shakey and Josh behind to be honest. Josh is strong around here, but Shakey’s on the same equipment and I believe that I am riding better than him at the moment.”
Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) – Joint fourth in the standings: 507 – Qualifying position: 9th – “The weekend has been difficult for sure, we basically lost yesterday and we could have really done with this afternoon being dry and the weather conditions were really mixed this morning and we genuinely went into qualifying as our first dry session. In that sense I am happy-ish and to do that lap time is alright, but it isn’t ideal at this point in the Showdown. We are a bit behind and we will have to see what we can do tomorrow, we salvaged a top ten in qualifying so hopefully we can have a good day tomorrow.”
Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) – Joint fourth in the standings: 507 – Qualifying position: 14th – “I’m disappointed with qualifying today and I did expect more, but again it goes back to being slow on a Friday, if we had found this yesterday we could have been in a better position for today, I suppose. The positives are that we are in one piece, but I have a lot of work to do tomorrow as we will be starting the first race from 14th place. I always look forward to two long races to have a challenge and come through as much as I can, so looking forward to that tomorrow. But we do need to do some work over night and see if I can change anything and see what tomorrow brings.”
Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) – Sixth in the standings: 500 – Qualifying position: 4th – “I moaned a bit to the team after the last round that I’m still not comfortable on the bike and they have pretty much built me a completely new one for this weekend. I’ve found that feeling I’ve been chasing all year so all credit to them. It’s been a positive weekend, we haven’t had much track time but I knew the feeling was there and that we could do something. P4 isn’t the front row that I wanted but we’ve a new swing arm in this weekend and it’s taken a while to dial in so to finish P4 while still trying to get the best out of a package is pretty good. I’m able to do the times consistently and feel comfortable so it bodes well for a good race and good strong end to the season. I’ve got a motorbike I can race at 100%, I feel comfortable on it and I’m dragging my elbow for the first time this season. It’s not just the swing arm either, we’ve got an improved front and improved throttle connection so I have the bike I’ve been trying to get for the first nine rounds of the season.”
British Superbike 2015- Assen – Qualifying
- Joshua Brookes Yamaha AUS 1’35.971
- James Ellison Kawasaki GBR 1’36.346
- John Hopkins Ducati USA 1’36.463
- Michael Laverty Aprilia GBR 1’36.823
- Shane Byrne Kawasaki GBR 1’37.005
- Danny Buchan Kawasaki GBR 1’37.010
- Luke Mossey Kawasaki GBR 1’37.292
- Jack Kennedy Kawasaki IRL 1’37.315
- Thomas Bridewell BMW GBR 1’37.772
- Christian Iddon Suzuki GBR 1’37.311
- Richard Cooper Kawasaki GBR 1’37.594
- Josh Waters Suzuki AUS 1’37.598
- Jakub Smrz Yamaha CZE 1’37.640
- Dan Linfoot Honda GBR 1’37.668
- Peter Hickman BMW GBR 1’37.761