Josh Brookes and the Anvil Hire Yamaha team competed at Brands Hatch in the last round of the MCE British Superbike Championship on Saturday 14th October 2017 and picked up a victory and a third place in the triple header, securing second place and missing out on the title by just three points.
The full race report follows:
Josh and Shaun (Winfield) gave a great performance in the Qualification Round on Saturday morning, with the Bringelly man posting his fastest lap of the weekend on his final flying lap of Q3. This lined him up in second place for the opening outing on Saturday afternoon. Shaun improved further in time, posting a 1:28.735, to qualify 25th on the grid.
After the quick turnaround Race One got underway with Josh making a great start off the line, grabbing the holeshot. Brookes held second place after the second lap battling with Christian Iddon, with Shaun sitting in 25th, but then the race was halted and was forced to restart for a 16-lap dash.
Starting again from second on the grid, he made a good start but was baulked in the opening sequence of corners, dropping to fifth after the opening lap with Shaun holding his grid spot of 17th.
Brookesy then started to pull his way through the pack, soon finding himself in third place with a gap ahead to chase down the leading duo of Bryne and Iddon. The 34-year-old posted the fastest lap of the race as he went in pursuit, but he ran out of laps, crossing the line third.
After the opening set of laps Shaun started to pull his way forward, but mid race he made a slight mistake and lost sight of the group ahead, eventually taking 17th still recuperating from his injuries sustained two weeks ago at Assen.
By virtue of their lap times in Race One, Josh started Sunday’s second race from pole position with Shaun 20th on the grid.
From the lights both Josh and Shaun made great starts, with Brookes grabbing the holeshot and Shaun holding 24th. Josh began to battle for the lead with Byrne and Iddon, but by lap eight he’d dropped back to third place, after developing a vibration from the rear of his machine.
The former Champion fell back to fourth place by lap eleven, and brought the bike home safely seven laps later.
Shaun battled from the opening lap with Aaron Zanotti, the pair swapped places for the first half of the race, but by lap ten Shaun lost grip with his softer rear tyre and brought the bike home safely.
For the final race of the season Josh started from fourth on the grid, with Shaun starting from 23rd.
As the sun beamed over the 2.4 mile Brands Hatch GP circuit, both Josh and Shaun made great starts from the lights, with Josh grabbing the holeshot and led the race after the opening lap, as Shaun looked to move his way through the pack.
By lap four the Aussie had dropped back to third, but he soon regrouped after a safety car situation due to a crash for Leon Haslam on lap six and he pulled his way back to the front of pack by lap 12, holding his position until the second to last lap where Ellison made a move. Brookes wasn’t having any of it and at the next corner he responded and regained the lead.
Josh then posted a 1:25.5 on the last lap to keep the chasing pack behind to pick up his third win of the season and seal second in the Championship.
Winfield started to work his way closer to the pack of riders ahead, posting his fastest lap of the weekend in the process. After the safety car his rear tyre had cooled down and the 24 year old was forced to bring the bike home safely in 24th.
A proud Josh Brookes said after the weekend:
Leon’s form in the showdown has been fantastic, Shakey goes without saying, I’ve raced with him for years now and some of my best race craft has been formed by racing with Shakey, so I absolutely expected an extremely difficult event to try and challenge them.
I wasn’t aware of Shakey’s situation, but when I saw Leon had crashed I knew that Shakey didn’t need to take any risk to win the Championship.
I just gave it everything I had, it was a great relief to have the bike working very well in that last race, the first two races we had a couple of issues so to have the bike work perfectly in the last race was fantastic and I could ride confidently. To be sat here second in the Championship is a wonderful feeling.
I need to say a big thank you to the Winfield family, everybody already knows they are a family run team. They don’t have the huge amount of resources, fancy equipment and sponsors like some of the other teams, they purely do it by passion and the will to win, so they deserve credit as much as I do.
Team mate Shaun Winfield added:
The weekend wasn’t great for me in some ways, I had an electrical issue in free practice two and that set us back because we pretty much missed the session trying to figure out what that was. I didn’t quite manage to beat my lap time from earlier in the year which was disappointing, but I wasn’t too far away.
Race One was a tough old race, but Race Two was good, I enjoyed a good battle and it all came good. I felt strong and I got a decent result. Race Three I got a good start again, but then the safety car came out and I think the tyre went cold and I dropped off the pace quite quick, but I still posted my fastest lap of the weekend. All in all it’s been a tough year but we’ll roll onto next year stronger.
An emotional but proud Team Owner Rob Winfield summerised:
It’s been unbelievable, not just for me, but for everybody involved it’s just incredible. Everyone has pulled together, and it just shows that little teams can do it, and I hope this gives some people the drive to move in to Superbikes from the lower classes, because this proves it can be done.
We’ve had no help what so ever, it can be done if you dig in, don’t waste money and focus on the job. I’m so proud, it’s brilliant what we’ve all achieved.
It’s been a good year for Shaun, he’s grabbed his first points as well, he has struggled in the last few rounds and this weekend he is still hurting after the crash at Assen. We have a test coming up soon, with a few things to test but we’ll enjoy this tonight.
I need to say a massive thank you to everyone, from the team, to the sponsors to absolutely everyone involved. I’m proud, emotional and drained. Last year we scored three points all season, this season we were three points from winning the entire show, it just shows what we can do, and we’ll be back fighting for the title in 2018.
Josh Brookes ended the 2017 MCE British Superbike season in second place on 634 points, only three points away from winning the title.
The team are currently finalising plans for the 2018 season, and announcements will be made in due course.