Reigning champion Josh Brookes was back on top of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship SUPERPICKS Free Practice times at Oulton Park, heading the opposition for VisionTrack Ducati after a close start to the weekend as the leading 12 riders were covered by just 0.989s in Cheshire.
Australian Brookes claimed his first podium finishes of the season last time out at Silverstone and he carried the momentum into the opening day of the Showdown, waiting until the final minutes of the session to launch back to the top.
Tommy Bridewell had been the pacesetter up until the final five minutes of the day, but the Oxford Products Racing Ducati rider was nudged down the order after Brookes’ final sequence of laps, and he was then eased into third when Peter Hickman struck to take second on his final lap.
Championship leader Jason O’Halloran was fourth fastest to lead the McAMS Yamaha pairing, remaining ahead of Christian Iddon; the pair who had taken the fight for victory down to the wire at the Cheshire circuit earlier in the season.
Gino Rea was the first of the Showdown spoilers in sixth, holding off Lee Jackson by just 0.003s to claim sixth place as they edged ahead of Bradley Ray, who crashed out unhurt at Knickerbrook.
Glenn Irwin was ninth fastest for Honda Racing, holding off Danny Buchan who had set the pace in this morning opening session. Andrew Irwin held onto eleventh place just ahead of Tarran Mackenzie, who was the final rider to complete the SUPERPICKS 12 who progress directly into Q2 tomorrow.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, SUPERPICKS Free Practice result:
- Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati) 1m:34.201s
- Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) +0.173s
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Racing Ducati) +0.270s
- Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +0.285s
- Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati) +0.522s
- Gino Rea (Buildbase Suzuki) +0.579s
- Lee Jackson (FS-3 Kawasaki) +0.650s
- Bradley Ray (Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW) +0.653s
- Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) +0.719s
- Danny Buchan (SYNETIQ BMW) +0.777s
- Andrew Irwin (SYNETIQ BMW) +0.918s
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +0.989s
Josh Brookes – VisionTrack Ducati
Fastest in SUPERPICKS Free Practice
“I am obviously happy to finish the day on top, we haven’t topped a day after free practice this year, so obviously that’s a positive!
“The changes we’ve been making at recent rounds, I would say the last three or four, have been quite outside of a range I would normally work in. Before coming here, I was a little bit pessimistic that that could work at this circuit due to its nature, so we’ve made some other adjustments to counteract the fact that the circuit is so undulating and that wheelie is always an issue.
“What is surprising is the area we’re able to make the bike work now – I never would’ve dreamed of trying some of the settings we’ve got in the bike currently in years before, but I’ve been forced into it through lack of performance. When we’ve discovered a problem we are now having to make new changes to get past it.
“I can never expect to be anywhere at the moment because the season has been so up and down for me, nothing surprises me. When you’ve been quick before you always know that you can do it again. If you’ve never been fast I suppose it’s hard to set a point that you’d like to get to, or a point you think you can get to.
“But having set lap times before, won races before, won championships before, I already know what it feels like to go quick, so I’m always trying to repeat what I’ve done in the past and not only repeat what I’ve done in the past but if you can, set a new standard. So at the moment I’m not surprised by anything I’m doing because it’s all things I’ve done before.
“In recent times I haven’t had the results, so we’ve been forced to make changes that don’t feel natural to try and find a solution to these problems. As the year’s gone on we’ve understood better, so now we can actually put something together that works.”
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