Paul Bird’s search for a podium finish in the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship continues with Tom Sykes and Josh Brookes having another challenging weekend at Snetterton.
Having impressed at the Norfolk venue in pre-season testing, both riders had high hopes coming into the weekend despite their recent challenges but neither Sykes or Brookes was able to replicate the pace or form shown back then.
Sykes was the quicker of the two riders over the course of the three days but a crash in qualifying – a nasty highside which he was lucky to escape injury from – halted his progress and although he took seventh in the first race, which equalled his best result of the season, that was as good as it got.
Tenth was the outcome in race two before he was hit by Danny Buchan and skittled out of the action in race three.
“The weekend got off to a good start, but I suffered a big crash in qualifying which set us back a bit although I wasn’t too bad physically,” the former World Superbike Champion said.
“I was a little bit disappointed with the first race as I made a really good start to give myself good track position. In some areas, the bike felt really strong, trail braking being an example, but I wasn’t able to carry the corner speed in the way I wanted, and I lost momentum coming out of the corners.”
It’s clear we’ve got some limitations but I did what I could this weekend. The final race was the most disappointing as the changes we’d made to the bike felt good and I was more confident of a good result,”
“I’d just got to the apex of turn two and was happy on the brakes only to get taken out by Danny which was far from ideal. I’ve been the victim of a few dodgy moves in races this year so it was an early end to my race and it’s never nice to have your race ended due to what someone else has done.”
2015 and 2020 Champion Brookes fared even worse with finishes of 11th, 12th and 13th, suffering with an average start to Saturday’s race and unable to make any progress from that moment on.
“For some reason, changes we’ve made to the bike have affected the acceleration from a standing start but the pace was quite slow so I felt confident of moving forward. As the laps unwound, no-one got any quicker and no one was really able to improve or make passes, so it almost felt like we were riding rather than racing.”
Thirteenth was the outcome then and although he improved by a place in each of Sunday’s races, it meant he remained in a lowly 12th overall in the championship table, a far cry from what he or the team have been accustomed to.
“The final race of the weekend was marginally better as although I didn’t feel that fast, the lap times were quicker than what they had been all weekend. It’s not an improvement to get excited about but I’m an eternal optimist and am determined to make things better.”
“I’m as motivated as ever and although the championship isn’t possible, we have a lot of personal pride to fight for both as a rider and team in the remaining seven races, so we won’t give up.”