Josh Brookes - Championship position: 5th - Points: 167 - Podium credits: 14
A sharp intake of breath was heard when the announcement that former MCE British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes would join the little-fancied, privateer Anvil TAG Yamaha team for 2017 was made.
TAG were a relatively inexperienced team at BSB level and hadn’t run anyone with championship aspirations before. Brookes had fielded and rejected offers from many of the major teams, settling for one that would run an R1 and would do what he wanted them to.
With only half a day’s dry testing at Jerez, plus some time at Donington, Brookes launched into the season and was straight on to the podium at Donington - almost mirroring his championship year. Teething problems along the way prevented another top three until two seconds places at Snetterton saw Brookes back to form - aided by new/old crew chief Stewart Winton.
Crashing out of second place at Brands was made up for by a win at Thruxton but another crash in race two saw the Australian puzzled by problems with the front of the R1 never experienced before. Cadwell was disastrous for the Bringelly rider but fifth in the championship stakes and 14 podium credits sets him up well.
In 2015, Brookes won all but one of the Showdown races and Silverstone has traditionally been a happy hunting ground.
"Silverstone is a good circuit; I look forward to going there. It's no different to any other round at this stage, its business as usual, and not in a secure manner. Nobody is completely secure, but being fifth in the championship is just job as usual. I just have to go and get the results and head towards the championship decider,” said Brookes.
"I don't feel like there is any pressure put on me, I only put pressure on myself! The only pressure in our team should be in the tyres! The job has always been to win races, even from the first round of the year - the idea and the expectation is to win races. That's what we aim to achieve, and that's how you win a championship.
"Other riders or teams may succumb to the idea of this round being greater than others, but to me it's the same from the first round to the last. We've got the same job, the same objectives, so the pressure doesn't change.
"I think the situation at Cadwell was relative to the bike, the track is quite different in layout to any other track we've been at recently, so it suggests that Silverstone will be more in line with the other tracks we've been at, with its flat surface and no real change in elevation. It suggests that the bike will be better this weekend than what we had at Cadwell. In any case we're making changes to try and alleviate the problems we had at the last round. I think in general Silverstone will be more suited to the bike anyway, but we're definitely going to make attempts to improve it regardless of that.
"Any round is the same for me, I’m going to try and achieve my best and you can only ride around at the speed that's the best of your ability with the best of the bike that you have at your disposal. How you think about it with your head, or nervous energy, or expectation is wasted energy because it's not going to change anything anyway. The best you can do on the bike is going to be the same regardless of how you think about it. I'll just have to do what I can."