After 15 races without a podium, Josh Brookes made it back into the top three in the final British Superbike Championship race of the weekend at Donington Park with third place helping him cut his deficit to championship leader Tommy Bridewell to 76 points.
With seventh and eighth in his other two races, it saw him bring the gap down from 110.5pts and ensure he goes into the final round at Brands Hatch still in with a chance of making it BSB title number three.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story as the first half of the weekend in the dry was again a struggle on the FHO Racing BMW as he only just scraped out of Q1. Failing to make an impression in Q2, eventually placing 17th on the grid for the first race, the wet conditions played into his hands and he acknowledged he still wasn’t happy with where he was.
“It wasn’t positive all the way through the weekend, and, in fact, it was quite disappointing,” he said. “We came here with high hopes and were optimistic after having a strong round earlier in the year when I was on the podium.”
“You expect you're going to improve the bike as the year goes on and come back to the same track and your results will be better than they were before. Obviously, that's the same for everybody, so everybody improves, and it makes that more difficult, but we felt like we should have had a better weekend.”
Brookes struggled with corner entry during the dry practice and qualifying sessions but had good pace in the wet, coming through the pack to take seventh in the Sprint race and with a better grid position for Sunday’s opening, backed it up with an eighth.
“The small improvements we’d made from qualifying to the second race had improved the bike, and even though it was mostly wet conditions in the races, I managed to hold my place and not drop back too much, so I was in a good position for the final race.”
It was here where he shone the most, running in the top six early on and working his way up to fourth as the race entered its closing stages. And when Leon Haslam was forced out, he was promoted up the order to third for his eighth podium of the season and his first since Snetterton at the beginning of July.
“I was battling with other riders, making passes and it was positive you know, I felt like I had the ability to pass others and stretch away. As a racer, you kind of want that feeling of being able to improve and progress, so to be in that position again was a great pleasure.”
“We did kind of get gifted a podium position, as much as I was trying to close the gap to Christian [Iddon]. It was coming down, but I probably wouldn't have got to him before the end unless he made a significant mistake, but then Leon ended up going out with a failure and the race got red flagged, which gave me the third position.”
“Obviously I'd rather get third on my own merit, but you know when it's been this long without a podium myself, the FHO Racing team, all the sponsors and supporters, they need this as much as I do, so I’m really pleased for everybody involved that we've been able to get back to the podium and share champagne!"