Glenn Irwin and Josh Brookes kicked off the Brands Hatch round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship by topping a free practice session each on the opening day, on the Grand Prix circuit, ahead of tomorrow’s Datatag Qualifying.
Irwin led the opposition in the opening session, firing the Be Wiser Ducati to the top of the times in dry conditions to hold a narrow 0.115s advantage over McAMS Yamaha’s Brookes at the chequered flag.
Brookes had been closing the gap to Irwin, but in the closing stages his team-mate Tarran Mackenzie nipped into second place to push the 2015 champion back into third. Brookes responded though with less than five minutes on the clock to move into second and close the gap to the Be Wiser Ducati.
In the morning session James Ellison made it three Yamahas inside the top four as he pushed Luke Mossey back into fifth place on the leading JG Speedfit Kawasaki, with Christian Iddon completing the top six for Tyco BMW. That pushed Jake Dixon into seventh place with Peter Hickman holding off championship leader Leon Haslam and Michael Laverty who completed the top ten.
The second free practice though had Brookes at the top of the timesheets; the Australian mastering the changing conditions following a brief shower before the session. Several of the riders chose to wait until later in the second free practice to head out the on circuit once the track dried, but Brookes continued to live up to his reputation, and was the first rider on track.
Brookes set the initial pace and it wasn’t until the closing ten minutes when the times began to tumble with the final 60 seconds a frantic flurry of improvements with Glenn Irwin and Jake Dixon moving up the order before Brookes returned to the top.
Ellison posted a time in his final run of the session to climb back up the order into fourth place with Mason Law completing the top five for Team WD-40 Kawasaki. Dan Linfoot was sixth fastest for Honda Racing, moving ahead of Gino Rea. The OMG Racing Suzuki rider held off Andrew Irwin who used free practice two to get a feeling for the Superbike in the different conditions, as he continues his rookie season in the premier class with Luke Hedger and Christian Iddon completing the top ten.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Free Practice 1:
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m:25.523s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +0.115s
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +0.357s
- James Ellison (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.453s
- Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.463s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.473s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +0.538s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +0.548s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.561s
- Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +0.614s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Free Practice 2:
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) 1m:36.324s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +2.774s
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +2.942s
- James Ellison (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +3.048s
- Mason Law (Team WD-40 Kawasaki) +3.500s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +5.107s
- Gino Rea (OMG Racing Suzuki) +6.645s
- Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +7.190s
- Luke Hedger (Lloyd & Jones Bowker BMW) +7.288s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +7.886s
The sixth round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship take place at Brands Hatch on July 20/21/22. For more information visit www.britishsuperbike.com
(Be Wiser Ducati)
“It felt good to top the session this morning; especially because it was a consistent pace and wasn’t just with a new tyre, which will be important for the races on Sunday.
“The first practice actually makes me excited for tomorrow to see what we can do in qualifying, so I have started the weekend happy.
“Some riders sat out this afternoon but it was still important to get out there; we scrubbed in some new brake pads and the times did get faster towards the end when the track dried.
“I actually had a lot of fun this afternoon and it is important to keep your eye in; it might not be that we have conditions like that this weekend but you never know when we will have another session or race like that, so any practice for that could prove crucial later in the year.”