Brookes grabs Showdown spot with Silverstone silverware
Anvil Hire Yamaha’s Josh Brookes grabbed his second victory of the season and his fourth podium of the year this weekend at Silverstone to secure him in the 2017 Showdown, as the sole Yamaha fighting for the title. Shaun Winfield experienced a tough weekend, battling setup issues, the weather, and technical gremlins throughout the three days.
The weekend got off to a great start for Brookes, who finished the free practice sessions at the top of the time sheets, following a dry FP3. Winfield, who struggled in the damp conditions found feeling with his R1 on Saturday morning and headed into Qualifying high in confidence.
Qualifying saw Brookes improve in time in each of the three sessions, lining him in fourth place for the opening race of the weekend, with his team mate improving again in time posting a lap time of 2:09.9 alone on track, lining him up in 24th for Saturday afternoon’s first encounter.
Following rain prior to the start of the race, both Brookes and Winfield chose to run full wet tyres in changeable conditions, and from the lights Brookes made a great start. Lap two Josh took the lead from Jake Dixon, and started to control the race.
Mid race saw Brookes drop back to second behind a charging Glenn Irwin, and the Aussie kept his lap times consistent and strong on a drying track. He held off John Hopkins to take the flag in second place, picking up all important Championship points and podium credits.
Winfield also made a great start, and after lap one he’d made up three places, battling for 18th place with Linfoot, Westmoreland, Bridewell and others. The 24-year-old pushed hard in tricky conditions, but ultimately, he couldn’t catch the group ahead on a soft wet setup in drying conditions, bringing the bike home safely in 20thplace.
Due to their lap times in the opening race, Sunday’s first race would see Brookesstart from seventh, with Winfield in 23rd.
After a positive morning warm up, both Josh and Shaun made good starts as the lights went out for race two on Sunday afternoon, with Brookes sitting in fifth place after the opening lap, and Winfield battling for 20th.
The Aussie started to pick his way through the field, and by lap six he took the lead of the race and started to pull a gap on the chasing pack. Lap ten saw the safety car deployed, and the next lap the red flag came out due to a technical problem forShaun, thus forcing the race to be stopped, handing Brookes the win and securing his showdown place.
Winfield battled hard after the opening few laps, and on lap four he held 18th and battled with Zanotti until the pace car was deployed. As he continued to battle and catch the leaders, he had a technical fault, forcing him to retire from the race.
For the final race of the weekend, Josh started from the head of the second row in fourth, with Shaun in 19th.
Following a downpour of rain prior to race three, all riders were forced into making changes to their setup, and switched to wet tyres.
From the lights both Josh and Shaun made good starts, with Josh leading the race after lap one. By the third lap Josh was joined at the front by Byrne and Ellison, and dropped back to final podium spot as the front two pushed on.
The very next lap Brookes crashed out of the race as he entered the start finish straight, high siding into the gravel. Due to the conditions, all but one of the top six failed to finish, meaning Brookes is now only ten points behind the Championship lead as he enters the final three all important rounds of the season.
Winfield, made his way into 20th place by lap three and began to battle with Aaron Zanotti, but pulled out of the race on lap four due to brake and visor issues.
Following the weekend, a pleased Josh Brookes said: “Without sounding cocky, I hope it’s just confidence that I expected to be here at this point. You never can guarantee it but throughout the year I expected to be able to sit in this position. Today was certainly challenging, but like I said after race two today being confirmed in the showdown made it a lot easier, or certainly less stressful, but the real fight starts at the next round.
“I don’t know how to gauge confidence but you have to look at the facts, when I’m riding well and the bike is doing what I need it to do we are in a position to win. Hopefully we can manage the situation so we can stay in that range.
“The tracks coming up are good circuits for me, I’ve held lap records there or won races at them before, so there no reason not to be confident with the tracks we have coming up. This Championship is always full of interesting circumstances, but we just have to stay focussed and not make mistakes.
“I’ve got to say a big thank you to the team, they’re a family run outfit, a privateer outfit aswell and this is a huge achievement for them, but like I’ve said the real fight starts next week.”
His team mate Shaun Winfield added: “This weekend has been a challenge to say the least, the weather has been unkind to us, like everyone but I’ve pushed hard and unfortunately the results just haven’t come. The good thing is we have a quick turnaround now to the next round where I can put things right.
“I like Oulton Park, we had a good meeting there the last time in April so I can’t wait to get there already, it’s a good track for me and I’ll be pushing hard for the points.
“I’ve got to say well done to Josh, he’s worked hard all year and ridden great, it’s great for the team and my Mum and Dad, so hopefully we can put in a good end to the season, and make it a year to remember for us all.”
An emotional and delighted Team Owner Rob Winfield summed up by saying: “It’s not bad for a small team from Swadlincote is it?! It’s the first time we’ve made the showdown and I can’t put it into words how proud of everyone I am, it’s a dream come true for us all.
“Josh has worked hard all weekend, he’s quietly gone about his business and when it mattered, he and his side of the garage made the right choices for the conditions. To walk away with a second and a win is fantastic, but now the real work begins.
“It’s been a tough weekend for Shaun, he’s battled hard and race two today he was unlucky with the technical issue he had, and he made the correct choice to pull in when he did because of the issues he had in race three.
“I’ve just got to thank all our sponsors and partners who have helped us get here, it’s not been an easy ride the last few years but they’ve stuck by us and this is for them as much as it for us all.”
Josh Brookes now sits in third of the MCE British Superbike Championship on 522 points, ten points behind Championship leader Shane Byrne.
The team now head to leafy Cheshire for round ten of the series this weekend, and the start of the all important ‘Showdown.’