BSB: Brookes celebrates first British Superbike title after Brands Hatch dogfight with Byrne
Sat 17th Oct 2015-Josh Brookes celebrated winning his first MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title by beating arch rival Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne in the opening race of the triple-header season finale at Brands Hatch. The Milwaukee Yamaha rider became the first Australian to win the title since Troy Bayliss in 1999.
The pair continued their season-long rivalry with an explosive start to the racing action as the pair traded blows at the front of the field in the quest for the first win of the weekend.
The Milwaukee Yamaha rider had a fight to hold off Byrne at the start and by the third lap the defending champion had scythed ahead with a decisive move down the inside at Surtees, knowing that he had to win to keep his title chase alive.
Brookes was not going to settle for second and was instantly on the counter attack, making a move back two laps later, but within two corners Byrne was back ahead as the pair continued their tense battle at the front.
By lap eight Brookes made another play for the lead and he claimed the lead at Stirlings but again Byrne came back strong with a stunning move around the outside at Clearways. The Australian fought back though and a move on the twelfth lap at Stirlings gave the Milwaukee Yamaha rider the edge and he forcefully set the pace to edge a gap to claim the victory, taking his twelfth victory of the campaign and with it the crown.
American John Hopkins enjoyed his first podium of the season as he took third on the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati ahead of Bennetts Suzuki’s Christian Iddon while Lee Jackson on the Buildbase BMW snatched fifth place from JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Ellison.
The MCE BSB season concludes tomorrow (Sunday 18 October) with the final two MCE BSB races and a further five support races before the champions are crowned and the spectators are invited onto the track to enjoy the end of season celebrations.
Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha)
Race one: 1st
Champion: 678 points
“It’s amazing. For me I feel like that kid that grew up in Bringelly, a country town west of Sydney, and went to Bringelly Public School, and rode a dirt bike around in a field, and did it for fun, and then one day it was a race, and another race, and then it turned into a career. To be sat here next to Shakey and John Hopkins and be taking the British Championship is something that people have said over the years you’d never do and never get close to. I’ve always had some unknown desire since young age to pursue motorbikes as a career, so it’s not something I can put in words, but it’s something I feel and it feels great.
“Early this year I went to the German Championship, rode the IDM and during the race, I ended up third, I was in a battle with some other guys and I just thought, this is easy compared to racing against Shakey Byrne. When you race against a guy like this week in week out, it just toughens you up and it really is a challenge and every time you think that you’ve got an advantage, he puts something into the mix that makes you eat your words. I wasn’t at all surprised to see him come past.
“At the start of the race I did some good laps which on the dash looked like pretty good lap times and I could still hear this bike signing in my ears – it was Shakey right behind – and one lap he just sprung out from what seemed like nowhere and got past me. I tried a bunch of times to get back by, but I just didn’t seem to have the speed or the form in the early part of the race to keep that position and he kept fighting back, which again is what you would completely expect from Shakey.
“By the mid part of the race, I felt like I could maintain the speed and get into a rhythm where I felt like I had an advantage, and I thought, I’ve got to pass, put a hard lap in, and try and make a gap and then keep doing strong laps – that’s the only way to fight him off. It sounds like he’s a dragon or something! Once I got in front I really tried hard, I risked a lot, but I gained a lot, so I’m really pleased.”
Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki)
Race 1: 2nd
Second in the standings: 626 points
“This season, things haven’t really gone quite to plan. We had a plan from the word go, and I kind of threw that into disarray by crashing on the first day of pre-season testing, so we’ve been a little bit on the back foot but the race here today was the only one that could keep the championship alive. It was always going to be a bit of a long shot, because the competitiveness of Josh and the Yamaha is just another level at the moment.
“I knew I had to just do absolutely everything I could to try and stay in front, and when I got in front, I tried to go really fast without going too fast, hoping that you get the odd end of year hero that jumps on the podium and will do anything to get that podium. I just thought that if I got a few more guys in the mix, maybe we could take some points off Josh, but everytime he came past me, I just shut my eyes and let the brakes off. A few times it worked, but then one time he got past and went 1.1 quicker than me that lap and what can you do?
“I tried my absolute hardest all the way to the end and I promised the team I’d give 110%, did everything to keep the championship alive, and these championships don’t come on the back of Kellog’s Frosties packets – you have to earn them and Josh certainly earned it this year. There’s no disputing the fact he’s won however many races it’s been, been on the podium as many times as he’s been, you can’t not deserve a championship after all that.
“I’ve won seven races this year so far and was hoping to win a couple maybe this weekend. Generally speaking, the performance I’ve put in this year would generally be good enough for a championship, but those guys took it to another level and thoroughly deserve the championship. We will see what we can do tomorrow to end the season on a high.”