After a four month delay due to COVID-19, the VisionTrack Ducati pairing of Josh Brookes andChristian Iddon got their 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign up and running at Donington Park this afternoon in fine fashion with the duo taking strong third and fourth place finishes respectively in the opening race of the season.
With the track bathed in sunshine, the first round of the 2020 season saw the duo have to dig deep during free practice on the factory-supported PBM Ducati Panigale V4 Rs with Australian Brookes claiming sixth during Datatag qualifying for the defending champions meaning a second row start for the opening race.
Iddon, making his official debut for the Penrith-based team, was five places and two rows further back. But in perfect conditions all around the 1.9-mile National Circuit for the 22-lap race, both riders made good starts to slot into sixth and seventh at the end of the opening lap and the front six riders soon began to break away.
Six became four by lap nine after rivals Kyle Ryde and Hector Barbera retired and Brookes was now in third and right on the tail of Honda Racing team-mates, Andrew and Glenn Irwin. Meanwhile, Iddon was in fourth and doing his utmost to close the small gap to the leading trio.
Brookes hit the front for the first time on lap 15, grabbing the lead at Redgate, but two laps later he was back in third as the two Honda riders made their move. Indeed, they were able to edge away in the closing stages but Josh took a good third, only 0.831s adrift of. race winner Andrew Irwin at the chequered flag, and with Iddon not far behind in fourth, it was a strong start to the season for the team going into tomorrow’s two races.
Josh Brookes: “Qualifying in sixth made it hard and I was waiting for a pattern to emerge in the race before I was able to move forward. I got up to third just behind the Irwins and felt confident but with around six laps to go, I found it really difficult to keep that pace up. I was hoping that the others would slow a little, but they didn’t and by then I was back in third. I couldn’t push any harder, so I decided to settle for what I had rather than risking a crash. I’m not going to blame the bike or the tyre or anything, perhaps it was down to me but either way it’s good to get a podium and we can concentrate on tomorrow.”
Christian Iddon: “After we struggled a bit during testing here at Donington and not quite being where we needed to be in free practice, to be challenging in the leading bunch today was pleasing but to just miss out on a podium after all that hard work was very frustrating. But we now have a good base setting which has proved it’s possible to run at the front so I’m hoping to translate that into at least one podium tomorrow. Scoring solid points is vital in this shortened championship so it’s a good start but I’m hoping for better in tomorrow’s races.”
Brookes will start from pole position in the first of tomorrow’s two 26-lap races which are due to start at 13.45 and 16.30, respectively. Both are live on British Eurosport and also on BSB Radio (via the BSB website or TSL Live Timing link).
Bennetts British Superbike Championship (after race one)
|1|| Andrew Irwin (Honda)
|2||Glenn Irwin (Honda)||20 pts|
|3||Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)||16 pts|
|4||Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)||13 pts|
|5||Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)||11 pts|
|6||Luke Mossey (BMW)||10 pts|
Pictures courtesy of Double Red Photographic: Josh Brookes (25) and Christian Iddon (21) in action at Donington Park today.