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Superbike podium 'pleasing' for Brookes after eight-year break

After an eight-year gap, Josh Brookes made a successful return to the North West 200 with third and fourth place finishes on the MCE Ducati in the Superbike races, positions which he felt were more than positive given the lengthy absence.

Fastest in the opening qualifying session gave outsiders the view that the former double BSB champion would be firmly challenging for the race wins but the Australian felt that Thursday’s qualifying session would always show a more accurate position of where he placed.
“After a few years away from the roads, the first few laps were quite breathtaking and intense, but I was soon at ease again,” he said. “Once they were out of the way, it was just a case of getting on with the job and being  bike racer again whilst I was quickly up to speed in Tuesday’s qualifying session, I knew the pace would quicken on Thursday. We got to a certain level pretty quickly but then levelled off whilst the other riders made greater gains.”
Indeed, whilst Brookes improved by two seconds in the final sessions, other riders improved by five, six and seven – some by even more than that – which resulted in him qualifying in eighth place.

The nature of the short practice session meant there wasn’t much time to make any significant changes whilst competing in just the one class also meant his track time was limited.
“We only made small improvements between sessions compared to other riders and with a relative lack of track time, especially with not riding in any other classes which perhaps worked against me, we weren’t able to fully try all the changes we made. That meant we went into race day still working on setup.”
However, the work Brookes and Paul Bird’s team did certainly improved the Ducati package and although he couldn’t match the pace of the front runners, he maximised what he had at his disposal and after fourth in race one, third was the outcome in race two behind Glenn Irwin and Richard Cooper despite overshooting University mid-way through the race. He also set a new personal best lap of the 8.9-mile circuit with a lap of 123.141mph.
“The changes we made for the two races definitely worked and I ended up setting a new personal best lap. I did my best to stay with Glenn and Richard but when they edged away, I tried that bit harder to stay with them and ended up going straight on at University. I had a comfortable margin to the fourth placed rider though so once I rejoined, I just concentrated on bringing the back home.
“It was certainly pleasing to end the week with a podium finish and after eight years away from the event I think, realistically, that’s the best we could have hoped for. The pace at the front was red hot but we got quicker and quicker and we can be pleased with our efforts this week.
“Competing on the roads is something I enjoy but the decision isn’t always mine as it obviously depends on the team’s commitments. It was a last minute decision for the team to bring me here but we’ve all enjoyed the week. The Northern Ireland public have a great affinity and connection to motorbike racing and motorbikes in general and you could see that with the large crowd on Saturday.”


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