The VisionTrack Ducati pairing of Josh Brookes and Christian Iddon thrust themselves right back into contention for the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park today with Brookes winning the final race of the weekend and Iddon taking two more second place finishes to add to the one he took yesterday.
Riding Paul Bird’s factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4Rs for the Cumbrian team, the duo started the opening 18-lap encounter from second and eighth on the grid with Iddon the better placed of the two riders as perfect weather conditions again blessed the Cheshire venue.
Saturday’s race winner Jason O’Halloran grabbed the holeshot and he would go on to take a start to finish victory but Tyneside-based Iddon made him work hard with the gap between the two never more than four tenths of a second. Try as he might, he was unable to make a pass, but his second successive runner-up spot saw him overhaul team-mate Brookes in the championship standings.
Aussie Brookes, the 2015 BSB champion, had quickly worked his way up to fourth as the leading quartet broke clear and for much of the race he was well in contention for a podium finish. In the closing laps however, he dropped off the pace slightly and had to settle for fourth at the chequered flag.
Such was his pace, it meant Brookes started the third and final race from pole position and he made it count as he not only took the lead at the first corner, he retained it for all of the 18 laps to take a majestic 51st career BSB victory. Brookes led Iddon, O’Halloran and Lee Jackson for the majority of the race and despite the extreme pressure he was under, he held firm and when Iddon lost time at the Hizzy’s chicane, he had the breathing space he needed.
That meant Brookes came home for his second win of the season and with teammate Iddon in second, it not only capped a superb end to the meeting for the team at their local circuit, but gave the team their second 1-2 finish of this year’s shortened campaign.
Although Glenn Irwin still leads the championship standings, there’s now just 12 points covering the first four riders with Josh’s win putting him back into third ahead of Iddon going into the penultimate round at Donington Park in a fortnight.
Josh Brookes: “Up until the final race, it had been a very difficult weekend and I hadn’t been able to push very hard or do much overtaking but the team have given me loads of support and never stopped working. The bike they gave me for the last race was brilliant. I had really good pace earlier in the day but I wasn’t able to sustain it all the way to the end which was why I dropped back to fourth so we got our heads together and made some more changes. The result meant I wasn’t able to lap as quickly but I could lap more consistently and keep it all the way to the end. I’ve won a fair few BSB race before, but I’m pleased to get a win again today and this one was particularly enjoyable.”
Christian Iddon: “I didn’t manage a win this weekend but I’m really happy with three second place finishes. In the first race, I looked at Jason’s back wheel for 18 laps but simply wasn’t able to do anything about and it was a really hard race, harder than Saturday for sure; it was actually quite difficult to breathe the pace was that hot! I was hanging it out as best I could, but Jason pulled the pin at the end and it was another second for me. In the final race, this time it was Josh in front of me, but I felt stronger than him mid-race. But then I messed up the chicane near the end and that was that. I had to go from attacking to defending but I’ve taken a good haul of points across the three races and the championship’s back on now.”
Johnny Mowatt: “Christian’s ridden phenomenally well this weekend and he’s only missed out on a win or two by literally a couple of tenths. He’s starting to show people why we signed him, and I like the way he’s quietly going about his business. The team have been chipping away and there’s perhaps less pressure on him than Josh so with a solid 60 points, he’s done unbelievably well. For Josh, it was more of a mixed bag and the eighth on Saturday was a bit of a disaster, but he didn’t have the bike underneath him to do what he wanted it to do. There was a bit of head scratching overnight for sure but the changes he and the team came up with worked and his pace was there for all to see. He didn’t quite have the longevity in race two but another slight change for the final race paid dividends and with 12 points now between the top four in the championship, we’re right back in the mix.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship round 11 (18 laps)
1 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)
2 Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
3 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)
4 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
6 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)
6 Andrew Irwin (Honda)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship round 12 (18 laps)
1 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
2 Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
3 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)
4 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)
5 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)
6 Glenn Irwin (Honda)
Championship Standings (after 12 rounds)
1 Glenn Irwin 178pts
2 O’Halloran 176
3 Brookes 168
4 Iddon 166
5 Bridewell 134
6 Mackenzie 125
Pictures courtesy of Double Red Photographic: Josh Brookes (25) and Christian Iddon (21). Also pictured Frank Bird.
Meanwhile, day two of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship saw PBM driver Frank Bird back in action at Donington Park for the Fortec team and after yesterday’s disappointment of retiring on the opening lap, the 21-year-old from Penrith bounced back in superb style today. Dicing with the series front-runners, Bird claimed a top 16 place in race one before impressing with a top ten in today’s second outing on his debut in the series.
Frank Bird: “Overall I’m happy with my weekend after not driving the car before and my first time back in a single seater after a year. Races two and three were good, I showed great pace and had some good battles with some of the championship contenders. I managed to stay out of trouble unlike race one and came away with some good results and experience. It was great to be back with my old team Fortec so thanks to them, to Parker Racing for allowing me to do this, and of course my dad and our sponsors. The Spa 24-hour test is next up in two weeks’ time back in the Bentley so I’m looking forward to that.”