Christian Iddon maintained his Bennetts British Superbike Championship lead this afternoon when the VisionTrack Ducati rider took a second place in the opening race of the fourth round held at Thruxton.
But it again proved to be a tough day for reigning champion Josh Brookes with the Australian struggling and ending the race in 17th position for Paul Bird’s Lake District-based team.
After wet conditions yesterday at the super-fast Hampshire track, today saw good, dry conditions although the fortunes of the two PBM riders varied in free practice with Christian placing third on the factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati Panigale V4 RR and Josh back in 17th.
That pattern continued in qualifying where Tyneside-based Iddon posted the fifth fastest time for a second row start for the afternoon’s 15-lap race whilst Josh was back in 20th and on the seventh row.
Iddon slotted into fourth at the completion of the opening lap which was where he remained until the fifth lap when he overhauled Honda’s Glenn Irwin. Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran, Iddon’s main championship rival at present, led but on lap 12, Christian moved up to second to ensure his losses were a minimum.
The race ended on the penultimate lap after Irwin crashed heavily, fortunately without injury, and O’Halloran took the win ahead of Iddon which means the pair are separated by just one point in Iddon’s favour ahead of tomorrow’s two races.
For Brookes, it was another challenging race and after losing a number of places on the opening lap, the combination of a poor start and being slowed by a first lap crash, he dropped to 23rd at one point. He regrouped and managed to gain six places, but 17th meant he was outside the points to remain in 11th overall in the standings.
Christian Iddon: “Thruxton’s different to any other circuit we go to, and it’s been a bit of a bogey track for me in the past so it’s nice to finish on the podium this time around. I was really surprised at the pace we were doing and managing the tyre was the challenge, but I stayed patient and managed the race as best I could. I was a bit nervous ahead of the weekend, but we’ve stuck to our plan and didn’t panic when the riders ahead of me made a bit of a break. Jason’s pace was too much but the others came back to me and whilst it’s always sad to finish a race on a red flag, it’s another good podium.”
Josh Brookes: “It’s been another tough weekend so far and we’ve been trying to limit the amount of front-endchatter we’ve been having. It hasn’t been the traditional feeling, but we can see from the data that there’s not as much travel in the front. We made some changes for the race but when things are going wrong in racing, they go wrong, and I was pushed wide by the first corner crash which lost me a lot of time. The changes we’d made were in the wrong direction too and it was near impossible to make any kind of impression. We’ll be going with the opposite of that for tomorrow and do our best to get back to where we should be.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s been a very good day for Christian and having had tough times here previously for other teams, we drilled it into him that being patient and not destroying the tyre was key. He probably could have gone with Jason but knew he wouldn’t have had tyre left in the final third, so he played the waiting game and did so superbly. It’s not easy for a racer to do as it goes against their instincts, but he rode with his head and also with a lot of heart.
“Unfortunately, it’s been another struggle so far for Josh and whilst we thought his pace looked good after six or seven laps in qualifying, he wasn’t able to duplicate it in the race. When you qualify a long way back on the grid, you’re fighting a losing battle as you’re never going to make massive in-roads, but the team will make some more changes and he’ll go again tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s 20-lap races are scheduled for 13:30 and 16:30 respectively.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (15 laps)
1 Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha)
2 Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati)
3 Peter Hickman (BMW)
4 Ryan Vickers (Kawasaki)
5 Lee Jackson (Kawasaki)
6 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
17 Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings (after 10 races)
1 Iddon 183pts
2 O’Halloran 182
3 Mackenzie 147
4 Buchan 133
5 Bridewell 106
6 Hickman 89
11 Brookes 56