The second and third races at round five of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park todayproved to be a tough affair for reigning champions VisionTrack Ducati with title contender Christian Iddon following up a fourth place in yesterday’s opening race, before crashing out of both races.
But it was better news for teammate Josh Brookes who gave the Penrith-based team a little bit of cheer with fourth place in the final race of the day, meaning a much needed confidence booster for the two-times Bennetts BSB champion.
After a mixed opening day yesterday, the duo started today’s opening race, held over the longer distance of 26 laps, with Tyneside-based Iddon in ninth and Aussie Brookes in 13th place on the factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4RRs.
Iddon ran comfortably inside the top four for the first six laps, before there was drama at the start of lap seven when a clash with Andrew Irwin at Redgate Corner ended up in contact with a furious Iddon crashing out.
Bedfordshire-based Brookes again struggled in the early laps, dropping back to 18th, but as the race progressed, he found a good rhythm and by mid-race distance, he was one of the quickest riders on track. With three laps to go, he’d climbed up to seventh only for the safety car to be deployed and in the final sort out, he got shuffled back to tenth.
The final race of the challenging weekend saw Christian line up on the third row and Josh at the head of the fifth with a damp track greeting the riders for the shortened 20-lap race. Iddon chose a slick rear and intermediate front and was looking strong in fourth before crashing out at Craner Curves when closing in on the leaders.
Brookes opted for intermediates all round and although his starting position held him back in the early stages, he was up inside the top ten by the third lap and steadily moved forward after that. One of the quickest riders on track, he was up to fourth by half race distance and it was here where he finished for a morale boosting result.
Christian Iddon: “Some days, things don’t go your way and today was a case of that. I was taken out by another rider in the opening race and the fact he got a penalty tells the story, but it doesn’t get me any points back. Then in race two, I was feeling confident and knew I had the correct tyres as the track dried and was closing on the leaders but the next thing I know is I’m sliding down the track on my backside at 120mph. I’m not having the best of luck right now, but we’ll go again at Cadwell Park next weekend and try to get things back on track.”
Josh Brookes: “We’ve made progress this weekend but not as much as I would have liked, and I’d say the improvements have been small and results are still nowhere near where they should be. There are still some issues that we need to resolve, the main one being grip which is the one causing the most concern. The issues aren’t what I’d like and that’s having a knock-on effect on the engine braking strategy. It’s difficult to get the correct engine settings and we’re yet to find the balance. We did make improvements today from yesterday and my pace was good in the mixed conditions so there are some positives to take away from the weekend.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s been one of those weekends sadly where things haven’t gone our way. Christian was looking good in the first race today before contact from another rider caused him to go down and the second race was a bit of a gamble in the conditions. He’d opted for a slick rear but the grip he was getting put extra pressure on the front and he crashed out. It’s a shame as a podium was very much on the cards. There’s been some positive signs on Josh’s side of the garage and tenth in the first race isn’t a true reflection as he was the fastest rider on track until the safety car came out. Like Brands, he had another good ride in the sketchy conditions but, understandably, he wants and expects more. That applies to us as a team too and today’s results aren’t what we go racing for and we want to get back to winning ways, with both riders as quickly as possible.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race two (26 laps)
1 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
2 Bradley Ray (BMW)
3 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)
4 Peter Hickman (BMW)
5 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
6 Kyle Ryde (BMW)
10 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
DNF Christian Iddon (VisonTrack Ducati)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race three (20 laps)
1 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
2 Glenn Irwin (Honda)
3 Andrew Irwin (BMW)
4 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
5 Joe Francis (BMW)
6 Storm Stacey (Kawasaki)
DNF Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
Championship standings (after five rounds)
1 O’Halloran 277pts
2 Mackenzie 223
3 Iddon 203
4 Buchan 165
5 Bridewell 157
6 Hickman 130
12 Brookes 77
The next round takes place at Cadwell Park next weekend.
Pictures courtesy of Double Red: Christian Iddon (21) and Josh Brookes (25).