Josh Brookes continues to battle his way through the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship with the recent round at Oulton Park, whilst not seeing him challenge for the podium positions, did at least see him finish all three races inside the top ten.
The MCE Ducati rider’s pace was a lot more favourable at the Cheshire venue – just four tenths of a second off a front row position in qualifying – and a lot closer to the race winners with improvements made throughout the weekend.
Tyre life proved to be his main concern in Saturday’s opening race where he was unable to replicate his pace from earlier in the day, tenth place the eventual outcome.
“Qualifying went well on Saturday but the lap times we were doing were wearing out the tyre after six laps, so we softened the suspension and power for the race in order to extend the tyre life in the 14-lap race,” he explained.
“The consequence of that was that we lost quite a bit of pace and it might have been better to leave the set-up as it was, lap at a strong pace in the first six laps and then hang on as best we could in the second half. The conservative option we took didn’t work out but we’re trying to adapt all the time and we had a good think overnight about what our best strategy was going to be.”
The changes in both strategy and set-up clearly worked with two eighth places taken. Obviously, these were still below the 2015 and 2020 Champion’s high standards but the final race of the weekend saw him only 4.7s adrift of victor and fellow Ducati rider Tommy Bridewell, compared to a deficit of 14.9s to the previous day’s winner Bradley Ray.
““In some respects, we had a better day than some others, but today’s races were still hard, and I felt I could have visited the scenery myself on more than one occasion!” he said. “I was glad I didn’t, but the weekend has again shown just how sensitive the bike is to the changes made.”
“We’ve made some really minor changes to the bike this weekend, all of them in what we believed were in the right direction, but it was amazing how much they changed the characteristics of the bike. We went back to what we had in qualifying on Sunday, which was better than what we’ve had recently, and I felt like I was competitive again today, especially in the last race. They are small positives, but we’ll take every one we can.”