BSB

Josh Brookes grabs first win of the season

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Relentless Suzuki by TAS and Josh Brookes secured their first win of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch after a dramatic opening race that saw several of the leading contenders lose out.

"It was always going to be a tough race and everyone on the grid was rushing to get on intermediate tyres and that was what I had opted for so I felt that was the right choice," Brookes said. "I saw Michael (Rutter) had slicks on and knew he would be fast towards the end of the race. I pushed where I could and took it careful where necessary but it proves what a great team we have that we could work through these kind of situations."

As the conditions changed before the race the tyre choice was crucial and as the track continued to dry several of the riders were forced to pit and change to slick tyres during the race including HM Plant Honda's Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Tommy Hill with the title contenders ending the race 16th, 17th and 19th respectively.

On the opening lap Kawasaki WSB's Joan Lascorz took the lead into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time ahead of Byrne and Hopkins with Hill tucked in behind off the pole position. However Byrne took the lead on the second lap, diving down the inside of Lascorz at Graham Hill Bend.

Byrne stayed out front until the third lap when Brookes took the lead at Sheene Curve and then he continued to edge out an advantage. Byrne meanwhile dropped down the order rapidly and was forced to pit but only could end the race 16th. John Hopkins had moved second by the fifth lap and pushing hard on the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki and was running strongly in the early stages however he was coming under pressure from Gary Mason on the MSS Colchester Kawasaki. He passed at Paddock Hill Bend but Hopkins fought back and it wasn't until the eighth lap Mason was able to make it stick.

Mason held second place until the penultimate lap when Michael Rutter on the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati charged through after opting for slick tyres. He stole second place to relegate Mason to third. Hopkins held on to fourth place despite coming under pressure from Chris Walker in the closing stages who had his best result of the season in fifth.

James Westmoreland scored a strong sixth place after moving ahead of Graeme Gowland on the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo who took seventh place ahead of Michael Laverty on the Swan Yamaha. Jon Kirkham and Glen Richards rounded out the top ten.

Main Photo: Josh Brookes
Race 1 podium
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch Grand Prix, race one result:
1 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS)
2 Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +2.072s
3 Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +2.322s
4 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +6.022s
5 Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +8.111s
6 James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +10.783s
7 Graeme Gowland (WFR Honda) +11.626s
8 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +18.849s
9 Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +22.729s
10 Glen Richards (WFR Honda) +26.227s

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Brands Hatch race one:
1 Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 214
2 John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) 195
3 Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 165
4 Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) 137
5 Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 136
6 Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 121

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