Aussie ace Josh Brookes set a scintillating pace on his Be Wiser Ducati at Oulton Park today to claim pole position for tomorrow’s opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at round two of the series with team-mate Scott Redding taking a strong seventh place at the team’s local circuit.
Riding the factory-supported Be Wiser Ducati Panigale V4 R, Brookes set the tone right from the off and was in imperious form during practice, just as he had been at last month’s test around the 2.69-mile circuit and he headed into this afternoon’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session at the top of the leaderboard, an impressive 0.723s ahead of Danny Buchan with Redding back in 13th.
With dry, albeit cool, conditions at the Cheshire track, the duo comfortably made it through into Q2 and it was here where the pair really started to stamp their mark on the session, and Brookes was again quickest with Gloucestershire’s Redding moving up the order to fifth.
With just nine riders making it into Q3, Brookes set a superb lap of 1m 34.084s to grab the pole position and he did so in dominant fashion with his advantage over second placed rider and fellow Ducati rival Tommy Bridewell a commanding seven tenths of a second.
Redding, meanwhile, set his fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 1m 35.166s despite having used up his allocation of rear qualifying tyres in Q2 and it meant he claimed seventh position to head off the third row for the first 18-lap race on Bank Holiday Monday.
Josh Brookes: “I’m naturally delighted to have taken pole position today and after all these years of being rivals to the Be Wiser Ducati team, I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent them and to bounce back like this after the first round is tremendous for all of us. The team and the bike are working really well and we’re already at the stage where we’re just fine tuning the bike which at such an early stage of the season bodes well for the rest of the year. We’re well aware we still have a lot of work to do and one thing we’ve missed this weekend due to the weather is a longer run but our pace is good in both the wet and the dry so let’s hope we come away with the two good results we deserve.”
Scott Redding: “Oulton Park is an extremely challenging circuit and there’s been so many different things to deal with that are all new to me but whilst it’s tough on one hand, it’s also very enjoyable on the other so to take P7 today is very pleasing. Unfortunately, I had no tyres left for Q3 as I had to use them to get out of Q2, but the team have been great and I’m looking forward to the races although it’s going to be tricky in the first few laps for sure. I got caught out a bit at the first round in terms of how much bumping and barging that goes on but I’m more ready for it this time so the plan is to keep out of trouble in the first few laps and if I can come away with two top six finishes I’ll be more than happy.”
John Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “Both riders came away from the test last month with a good feeling and we’ve arrived here this weekend with new components to try which has allowed them both to make another step forward. We’ve found a clear direction to work towards and it’s given us a bit of an advantage this weekend, particularly Josh who’s riding with a lot of confidence now. He understands the bike better and has topped practically every session but hats off to Scott as well as he’s done a remarkable job so far this weekend. To put in the lap times that he has is superb and we’re really delighted with how he’s going about his job.”
1. Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m34.084s
2. Tommy Bridewell (Ducati) 1m34.709s
3. Peter Hickman (BMW) 1m34.885s
4. Jason O’Halloran (Yamaha) 1m34.940s
5. Christian Iddon (BMW) 1m35.013s
6. Danny Buchan (Kawasaki) 1m35.022s
7. Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m35.166s