Josh Brookes’ four-year tenure with the Paul Bird Motorsport team came to an end at Brands Hatch at the weekend and although the MCE Ducati rider wasn’t able to climb onto the British Superbike Championship podium, he at least ended 2022 with a smile on his face.
Having made it into the Showdown last season, despite some obvious struggles, the 2015 and 2020 Champion was hoping for better this time around but it proved to be even harder with just three top six finishes racked up across the 33 races.
However, he was a lot more competitive at Brands and after being knocked off in the opening race, he bounced back on Sunday with ninth and then seventh, the latter seeing him come through the pack from 12th and finish just three tenths of a second behind new champion Bradley Ray.
“The pace was pretty good at the weekend and things went well at a circuit I have a strong affinity with and although qualifying could have been better, the rain came at the wrong time,” he said.
“I didn’t string the lap together as well as I could but still had high hopes of a good result only to be victim of a first corner melee. People were being pushed wide and another rider ploughed into the side of me which damaged the bike with the gear lever bent right up against the motor. It was impossible to change gear and impossible to continue.”
The Australian’s results on Sunday meant he finished the year in 14th overall in the Championship but he was happy with his final day’s performance, if not the results themselves.
However, he recognised he was sorry to be leaving the Ducati fold, having recently announced a tie-up with FHO Racing in 2023, the highlight of his four years at PBM being crowned the 2020 BSB Champion.
“It’s a sad day for me as I’ve grown to love the Ducati and I’m going to miss riding the bike, despite recent results, as I think anyone who rides a Ducati will say its infectious, like motorbikes are in general,” he admitted.
“It’s a shame my time with the brand and team is up as we’ve had a good time together but who knows what the future will bring. As for today, I’d say it’s been my best day on the bike this year so it’s nice to end on a positive note.
“Seventh is not the result I want but in terms of lap times and consistency, and staying strong right up until the end, I felt better than I have done all year. I kept pushing and was running close to the British Champion so that’s a good achievement in our final race together.”