Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes (above) collected a double podium at the Knockhill British Superbike round on Sunday with two fighting second places behind double winner Shane Byrne.
The Australian rider also received the Flying Haggis Award – in memory of the late great Steve Hislop – for the fastest lap of the weekend; presented by Steve’s mum Margaret and his sons Aaron and Conor Hislop.
Brookes had a stunning start off the line to lead the pack for Tyco Suzuki with the Australian holding the lead from Byrne over the opening half of the race, but the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki was calculated and waited until the final five laps to launch his assault. At the front Byrne made a move on the inside into the Hairpin, but went wide and Brookes cut back; the pair touching on the exit of the corner giving the title contenders real ammunition to fight even harder over the final laps.
A lap later and Byrne repeated the move and this time it paid off as the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider held off a counter-attack from Brookes who continued to look for a way back into the lead for Tyco Suzuki. Byrne pushed hard and was able to edge a gap in the closing three laps to celebrate the win and put himself back at the top of the overall standings.
“After the first turn Shakey put a move on me straight away and I wanted to try and lead because I don’t like to see Shakey controlling the race at the front so I went straight back underneath him at turn three and then led the race for the majority. I kept pushing to try and improve the lap times but every time I did I lost traction on the rear, or made a mistake. It was like I was on a wall of the limit where I couldn’t go any quicker even though I know I had before over the weekend. It is the same situation; the only variation is it is a lot warmer today.
“As the leader you need to set the pace, I pushed and Shakey was with me the whole way. I knew he was going to make a pass it was just a case of when, and he came past on the brakes at the Hairpin and ran wide, so I thought we could make a race of this. I turned the bike early and got straight back underneath him but that meant I was running on quite a wide projectory, he was coming back from wide apex and we came together. It didn’t feel like a very big impact so I was quite sure he didn’t run off the track which in one way was a bit disappointing as I knew he would come back at me with even more fury! I tried again to push as hard as I could but it wasn’t the case, I had to settle for second.”
Alex Lowes had been part of the leading pack with team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari; however Samsung Honda’s Lowes made a mistake at the Hairpin half-way through the race which left him sliding out of contention. Kiyonari was then the lone ranger for the team and he continued to improve his pace to hold a clear third position; his first podium since 2011.
Jon Kirkham had been holding fourth place for Buildbase BMW but an unfortunate crash at Scotsman with four laps remaining saw his hopes of a strong finish evaporate with Keith Farmer scoring the fourth place after getting the better of Chris Walker on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki. James Westmoreland and James Ellison were sixth and seventh as the Milwaukee Yamaha rider carved his way up the order. Dan Linfoot was eighth with PJ Jacobsen splitting the Lloyds British GBmoto Hondas in ninth with Peter Hickman completing the top ten.
Byrne proved too good today as he claimed a double win in the fourth round, despite a last dash from Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes in the closing laps.
Byrne had a flying start from the second row to lead the pack into turn one on the opening lap as Alex Lowes and Josh Brookes tucked in behind with Ryuichi Kiyonari also in hot pursuit. Tyco Suzuki’s Brookes was putting the pressure on the Samsung Honda ahead of him and finally made a move on the fifth lap as he out-braked his rival.
Byrne edged ahead at the front of the field from Brookes, but on the final laps the gap decreased rapidly as the Australian pushed to close the advantage. Brookes clipped the kerb at the Chicane on the final lap, unseating him from the Tyco Suzuki and it gave Byrne the gap he needed to not be under threat into the Hairpin for the final time.
“In race two it was mentally tough watching Shakey ride away from me, but it also spurred me on and I actually made some time back on him towards the end of the race. I just focused on narrowing it down bit-by-bit and seeing the gap come down gave me energy and encouragement.
“I did a brilliant lap to win the Steve Hislop Award, which is a great honour to receive, and we are now second in the championship. It’s all about moving forward now and trying to bridge that gap to Shakey from the next round at Snetterton at the start of July.”
The Samsung Hondas were in formation with Lowes leading Ryuichi Kiyonari until the start of the eighteenth lap when the triple champion made a move on the brakes into turn one before edging away from his team-mate. Kiyonari celebrated a double podium finish for the first time since 2010 to move closer to the top six in the standings.
Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Chris Walker was able to hold off James Westmoreland in the early stages as they battled with Keith Farmer, but a mistake cost the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider as he dropped down the order. Walker held on to fifth to have his best weekend of the season so far ahead of Westmoreland and PJ Jacobsen. Jon Kirkham, Peter Hickman and Howie Mainwaring completed the top ten.
The Milwaukee Yamaha and Bathams Honda teams had a disastrous race two with Tommy Bridewell unable to make the start with a technical problem and then James Ellison and Michael Rutter both crashed out unhurt on the opening lap. Josh Waters was also forced to retire ending a tough weekend for the double Australian Superbike champion.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Knockhill
Race 1 Results
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +1.069s
3. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +5.013s
4. Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +16.821s
5. Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) +19.033s
6. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +23.733s
7. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +24.080s
8. Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +24.214s
9. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +24.265s
10. Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +24.711s
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.814s
3. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +8.637s
4. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +12.723s
5. Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) +15.620s
6. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +19.802s
7. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +23.382s
8. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +23.867s
9. Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +24.092s
10. Howie Mainwaring (MH Kawasaki) +31.061s
British Superbike Championship Standings
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 166
2. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 136
3. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 130
4. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 80
5. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) 76
6. Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) 65
The next round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship takes place on 5/6/7 July at Snetterton.