The VisionTrack Ducati pairing of Christian Iddon and Josh Brookes got the eighth round of the 2021 BennettsBritish Superbike Championship underway in fine style at Silverstone today as they took second and fourth place finishes in a dramatic opening race at the Northamptonshire venue.
The duo had a mixed start to their respective weekends during the free practice sessions, a time on Saturday morning seeing defending champion Brookes go second quickest with a time of 53.440s on the factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4 RR but Iddon was down in 16th albeit only half a second further back, an illustration of the close times around the 1.64-mile National circuit.
However, when it came to the Superpicks Qualifying session this afternoon, Bedfordshire-based Brookes wasn’t able to go any quicker and had to settle for seventh whilst Iddon improved by four tenths of a second to jump up to tenth for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team.
That put them on the third and fourth rows respectively for the 24-lap race later in the day with Iddon moving up to eighth on the opening lap but Brookes dropping back to 11th. By lap seven, the duo had made good strides forward with Tyneside-based Iddon up to sixth and Brookes now eighth, but it was extremely close with less than two seconds covering the leading nine riders.
Positions were changing frequently and going into the penultimate lap, Christian was lying in fourth and Josh seventh but just as it looked like this was where they’d finish, race leaders Tarran Mackenzie and Jason O’Halloran dramatically crashed out and as the following group tried to avoid them, a shuffling of the pack inevitably occurred.
Indeed, Christian found himself in second and Josh in fourth and with the red flag coming out shortly afterwards, this was where they finished. It also meant vital Podium Points for Iddon and vital championship points for Brookes who is now just six points off a Showdown position with two races to go before the top eight is finalised after tomorrow’s second race.
Christian Iddon: “I’m really happy to be back on the podium as I’ve been off the pace recently and had a few tough rounds so it’s nice to get this feeling again. Even at the start of this weekend, I was only average, but we made some improvements during qualifying, and I kept moving forward the whole race. Gino Rea looked to have that bit more on the Suzuki, but I was confident I could get by Glenn Irwin although the crash changed everything, and we ended up second. I’m really strong in some parts of the track but weak in others so if we can get off the corners better, I think we’ll be in a really good position for tomorrow’s races.”
Josh Brookes: “The wheel spin and lack of grip I’ve been encountering continues but I’ve almost learnt to live with itnow although it does make the races hard work. We only have a small window where the bike works and just the slightest movement out of that window leads to big mistakes which is why I’m up and down a bit during the races. I’m not known for making mistakes or for getting bad starts but that’s what’s happening although as the race goes on, the other riders come back to me. I can see them spinning up in the second half of the race but because I’ve had that from the start, I’m able to make up ground in the latter stages. It’s not ideal and it’s still frustrating but I’ll take the positives and the fourth place.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Coordinator: “We’ll take the results however they come at present and although Tarran and Jason were unlucky to not finish, it gave us our best combined results in a long time. Christian was running with the leading bunch, and we felt he had a podium in him anyway and Josh battled hard to be rewarded with yet another fourth place to give himself a real chance of securing a spot in the Showdown tomorrow. We’ll look to make some improvements overnight as both riders felt they were lacking a little so hopefully we can get some more podiums tomorrow.”
Sunday’s races are scheduled to get underway at 13:30 and 16:30 respectively.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (23 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Honda)
2 Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
3 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
4 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
5 Bradley Ray (BMW)
6 Gino Rea (Suzuki)
1 O’Halloran 399pts
2 Mackenzie 293
3 Bridewell 277
4 Iddon 259
5 Hickman 224
6 Irwin 186
9 Brookes 154
Images courtesy of Double Red: Josh Brookes (25) and Christian Iddon (21)