Josh Brookes scored his first pole position of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch this afternoon, mastering the changing conditions to claim the top spot for the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha team.
A heavy shower before the session left the riders dealing with improving conditions throughout the three-stage Datatag qualifying. Brookes topped the opening session but it was defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne who topped Q2.
In Q3, a hectic final battle for pole position between the top nine erupted and Peter Hickman was instantly on the attack; pushing hard from the start of the session to put the Smiths Racing BMW at the top ahead of Byrne, John Hopkins and championship leader Luke Mossey.
However Brookes was not giving up without a fight and the bullish Australian completed a run to first take the top spot, and then edge further ahead as Mossey moved into second with Linfoot in close contention, which he held to claim his first front row start of the season for Honda Racing.
Hickman will start the opening race tomorrow from the second row, ahead of the two Ducatis with Hopkins holding off defending champion Byrne for sixth place, after the Be Wiser Ducati rider set the fastest ever lap of the circuit this morning in dry conditions.
James Ellison heads the third row for McAMS Yamaha ahead of Leon Haslam who suffered a technical problem at the end of the second session, but was able to head back out in the final stage to claim eighth place on the grid.
Gearlink Kawasaki had their best performance of the season with James Westmoreland in Q3 for the first time this year; he completes the third row of the grid.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Datatag Qualifying:
- Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 1m:35.198s
- Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.658s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +0.667s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +0.702s
- John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +0.822s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.971s
- James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.180s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +1.633s
- James Westmoreland (Gearlink Kawasaki) +1.962s
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Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha
“Everyone involved has put in a lot of work and everyone wants to be where we are at the moment, but it’s a hard road to get here and I’m very pleased for everybody involved.
“The wet conditions are something I don’t normally struggle with so I was interested to see how I’d go in them. Each session the track was changing a lot, when I first went out in Q1 it was really wet and each lap it changed right through to my last lap in Q3.
“I’m actually hoping for a dry race tomorrow, we’ve got strong pace in dry conditions, even though I’m on pole in the damp I’d rather we had two dry races tomorrow. Maybe I took more risk than the others but it was nice to have that confidence with the bike and the track in what were tricky conditions.”