BSB Round 5 - Brands Hatch
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The Milwaukee Yamaha team have vowed to come back stronger after a challenging fifth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch today.
In the opening race of the day both riders were determined to fight their way through the pack, but for Josh Brookes he was unable to match his pace from earlier in the weekend and battled to sixth position, whilst Tommy Bridewell was forced to retire.
The second race was halted twice and was restarted in wet conditions. Bridewell was eager to score points for his championship challenge after missing out in race one and worked his way up to fourth place with some decisive moves. Brookes meanwhile had been picking off the riders ahead of him, but then on the tenth lap he ran on at Surtees. The Australian was able to rejoin and salvage an eighth place finish to leave Brands Hatch in second place in the overall standings.
Brookes said: “I am not sure why it has been difficult this weekend. The thing that troubles me the most is that I went faster on Friday than I have done the rest of the weekend. In second practice I did a load of good times, consistently. The rest of the weekend I have not even been able to get close to those times and I even crashed in qualifying trying! We have had an off weekend, of course you would like to be perfect at every event, but for some reason I didn’t have a good feeling for the bike after the crash.
“I thought I would go forward in the wet second race with those conditions, but I didn’t have the confidence in the wet either. At one point I was starting to get a feeling that I could make a bit of progress and then I ran off the track when the bike slid. I then just bought it home and thought, don’t bust it here, save it for the next round’”.
Bridewell said: “Today was a testing day for me and the team to be honest. We showed a really good and strong pace all weekend. I loved riding my bike in all the conditions today though so all credit the team. We have made no secret we have had a niggling brake problem the last couple of races and it got the better of us in race one which forced me to DNF. We did everything possible to solve it and then it rained, so we can’t be certain we fixed the problem, but we didn’t have any issues in race two. All in all it has been a satisfying weekend, we are fifth in the championship, and we are not a million miles away so we can’t be too disappointed.”
Team co-ordinator Mick Shanley said: “This weekend has not been what we expected, especially when free practice started well for us. In qualifying and the races though we struggled to match that pace and we now need to work hard to work out why and resolve that ready for Thruxton. It has been frustrating as we know we should be pushing for more than what we have achieved today, but we need to focus our efforts on Thruxton and we will be doing everything to fulfil our potential.”
Busy Busy Race Weekend
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First up, BSB Round 4 - Knockhill
The Milwaukee Yamaha team have moved up to second in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings at Knockhill as Josh Brookes scored a pair of fourth places, with Tommy Bridewell overcoming a difficult weekend to finish inside the top seven.
In the opening race of the weekend Brookes was determined to take the fight to pole-sitter Ryuichi Kiyonari and standings leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, but the Australian was unable to match his pace from qualifying day and narrowly missed out on a podium in race one by 0.235s to Stuart Easton. The second race continued in a similar pattern for Brookes and despite a battle with Chris Walker, he doubled up on fourth places at the Fife circuit.
Bridewell had overcome a tenth place qualifying start to move up the order before a brake issue caused him to drop back down the order to fight for sixth place. In race two Bridewell was fighting to carve his way through the field when the issue reoccurred but rode a mature race to finish seventh, remaining inside the top six in the standings.
Brookes said: “I am a bit confused with today really. I used the same bike and the same tyres all weekend, but yesterday we were able to set a better pace than we have today. It wasn’t a particularly different day from the rest of the weekend here in terms of conditions and yet I don’t know where the lap time went. I tried everything to go faster and ride harder, but what was really frustrating for me was not that I came fourth, but that Shakey wasn’t his dominant self and I wasn’t able to capitalise. It is when he is having a bad day that I have got to have a good day. When he is having a poor weekend by his regular standards it was an opportunity for me to pounce and I fumbled. I am frustrated and I don’t have any answers so I have just got to put this round behind me and work on going further ahead at Brands Hatch.”
Bridewell said: “This weekend the team have done an amazing job; the bike has been absolutely fantastic. We obviously had a problem in free practice three which set us back, but to a degree it didn’t as I qualified seventh. We have had a good weekend and I can’t fault the team, but unfortunately in the races all of a sudden we had a brake issue which basically cost me a couple of podiums today. I am a bit disappointed because if you look at my lap times and my overall race pace I know for a fact that we would have been fighting for the podium at least. I have to look at the positives and I think we have shown good form. The result have not been what we wanted by far, but we managed to salvage results which is why we have to look at it positively.”
Team co-ordinator Mick Shanley said: “It has been a trying weekend really but we will take the positives out of it. Josh has moved up to second in the standings, whilst we didn’t end up with a podium, we had two fourth places which showed consistency. We have a bit of a question at the moment as we are not really sure where we lost performance today. We just couldn’t match the pace we had yesterday so we need to go back to the workshop and try and resolve that. I think that Tommy had a couple of issues in the races, but overall he has had quite a strong weekend after everything that happened for him in practice and in qualifying. I think that the whole team has worked really well together during a tough weekend and we have now got to focus on moving forward at Brands Hatch.”
And then the Road Racing!
JOHN Burrows and his Cookstown B.E. Racing team made the short hop from their Carland base to the Bush to take part in the Dungannon MCC's popular road race meeting and came away with a major share of the prizes.
Michael Sweeney won the 250GP race to extend his lead in the Irish 250 Championship while runaway Irish Superbike Championship leader Dan Kneen was on the rostrum no fewer than four times.
Skerries flyer Sweeney dominated the 250GP race on his Cookstown B.E. Honda, setting the fastest lap en route to a comfortable eleven seconds victory over Seamus Elliott. Sweeney is now 34 points clear of John Ella at the top of the 250GP points table.
Dan Kneen was making his first appearance at the difficult to learn Bush circuit but despite his lack of local knowledge he finished second three times and third once.
His first outing of the day was in the Supertwins race which was won by Jamie Hamilton. Kneen was involved in a terrific fight for second with English star Connor Behan who just pipped the Manxman to the post. The gap between the pair after eight laps of hot action was only a quarter of a second.
Kneen then took a hard fought second place in the Superbike Championship race, fending off the attentions of Sweeney and evergreen Davy Morgan. Jamie Hamilton won the race by 20 seconds but when it came to the Grand Final later in the day Kneen was able to carry the fight to the Ballyclare man and the fans enjoyed a real treat.
Having made some changes to the Cookstown B.E. Racing GSXR 1000 Suzuki before the Grand Final, Kneen was lapping five seconds a lap faster than he had done in the earlier Superbike race and put Hamilton under severe pressure. Both men broke Ryan Farquhar's lap record as they fought for victory with Hamilton just edging home first with an advantage of just 0.16 of a second.
Kneen's final appearance of the day came in the Supersport race. He didn't manage to find an ideal set up for his 600cc Honda and consequently had to settle for a decent second place behind Man of the Meeting Hamilton.
Speaking after the meeting, team owner Burrows said: "We have to be happy with that day's work. Michael extended his lead at the top of the 250 table and Dan did likewise in the Superbike class. Dan is now 35 points clear in the Superbike standings.
Jamie Hamilton was in fine form and Dan's lack of circuit knowledge was just too much of a handicap. However, if the racing took place at the Bush again next weekend I have a feeling the results would be different. Dan really started to get to grips with the track in the Grand Final and really pushed Hamilton all the way. You are certainly shifting when you better Farquhar's home circuit lap record.
Three seconds and one third was a decent haul for Dan - third place in the Supertwins race was his best result in the class to date.
It was also nice for us all to be able to put on a show in front of our local fans and sponsors. The sponsors all play a part in our success and I'd like to mention them all - Cookstown, Burrows Engineering LTD, Marks Bloom Chartered Accountants (Dave Evans), Wemoto, Colas, Hills Contracts, Davidson & Hill Contracts, Cookstown Caravans, Steam Packet, Wayne Acheson, and all the trade people who help us.