Ducati’s Josh Brookes may have left Snetterton feeling frustrated that he hadn’t got back onto the podium in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship but three strong and spirited rides meant he’s closed to within just 13 points of a Showdown position.
The VisionTrack rider’s pace was there for all to see at the Norfolk venue and that’s what left the reigning champion to ponder what might have been as two fourth places were ultimately his best results.
It’s a vast improvement to where he was a few rounds ago and although he’s not back to his best, his competitive edge returned. A combination of his own mistakes, those of others and crashes during the races prevented him from converting his race pace into top-three results.
“It’s been a hectic weekend and I seem to be around all the on-track drama that’s happening at the moment, I’m like a magnet!” he said afterwards. “All the moments and crashes other riders are having seem to be happening all around me so I’d like to be away from all that at the next round.”
“Looking at the positives, I’ve been able to fight a lot more this weekend. I got my pace back and am more at ease with the bike which is translating into good race pace so two fourths and a sixth is another step in the right direction.”
Brookes threatened the podium in each race but on a number of occasions he ran wide whilst trying to move forward and that, coupled with a few incidents saw his position yo-yo considerably. In each race, he dropped to the bottom of the top 10, sometimes lower, but each time he was able to impressively fight his way back.
“I wanted to get to the front as quick as I could as I knew that if I could do that, I’d be able to run with the leading group. I made a few mistakes in the races trying a bit too hard to do that though and got caught up in other rider’s incidents as well and that lost me ground more than once.”
“In the first race, I had the pace to be better than fourth but I got caught up in the incident of Andrew Irwin and Gino Rea and that lost me time to the leaders. I clawed it back but then lost the front going onto the back straight and ran wide although I was still only half a second adrift of the winner at the end. Rory Skinner had a big moment in front of me in another race so it was one thing after another but each time my pace got me back so that was another positive.”
Brookes was confident Sunday’s longer races would suit him better but fourth place in the opening race was again the outcome before he took sixth in the final five-lap dash where he set the fastest lap. One of the few riders to run the harder SCO Pirelli tyre, he was also left surprised that it didn’t play out to his advantage.
“I’m a bit puzzled as why the majority of riders could get the softer SCX to work as we felt sure we couldn’t make it last. We needed to run the SC0 but it is what it is. We had the potential to do better this weekend but the results at least mean I’ve put myself in with a shout of the Showdown.”
That’s a position he’s been in each year and although trying to get into the top eight at the final qualifying round seems almost un-imaginable and unthinkable for the 2015 and 2020 champion, it’s the position he’s in. It’s clear he wants to be in the Showdown but with the podium now within reach once more, it’s equally clear that he wants more.
“I’ve been in the Showdown every year I’ve ridden in the UK so, for sure, it would be nice to do so again. I’m just taking it race by race at the moment though and am trying to get back to winning races as quickly as possible. There’s no better feeling in racing that and that’s what I’m aiming at most of all.”