After winning race one of the Big Brands Bash, Josh Brookes was hoping to double up in the second race, and he had the perfect platform from which to do so as he set the fastest lap in the first race, giving him pole position for race two.
He made the most of it too, as he launched the 20th-anniversary-coloured R1 at Paddock Hill Bend far better than anyone else – the holeshot easily his, from Glenn Irwin. The Buildbase Suzuki of Richard Cooper also made a stunning start, steaming around the outside to take second place, although Glenn Irwin reclaimed that when the pack arrived in Druids for the first time.
From the beginning, Brookes tried to stretch the pack, with gaps appearing between the front three, including the Aussie himself as well as Irwin and Leon Haslam. However, by the middle of lap two, the field had bunched, and the front group went back to Christian Iddon in seventh place – once again the Tyco BMW enjoying the early stages of the race.
As they moved onto lap three, Luke Mossey was closing the leading group down and bringing Tarran Mackenzie with him – the second McAMS Yamaha rider had made an average-at-best start but had made a decent initial recovery in the early laps.
The group then started to split again, with the front three of Brookes, Irwin and Haslam breaking away a little bit from Cooper – who crashed at Paddock Hill trying to keep the pace. The crash of Cooper left a reasonably void between Haslam in third and Jake Dixon who had inherited Cooper’s fourth place. Back from Dixon was another rift before Christian Iddon became visible; the Tyco BMW trying to hold off Danny Buchan and Taz Mackenzie.
But it soon became clear that Dixon wouldn’t be able to catch the leading trio, and soon enough third placed Haslam dropped away from Irwin and Brookes ahead.
Once again, it was a last lap duel between Brookes and Irwin, and once again Glenn was not close enough to Josh to make a move, leaving the McAMS Yamaha rider to take his first double of 2018, and be crowned ‘Kind of Brands’. Quite an ominous result for Brookes, and one very reminiscent of his dominant 2015 season where, after being unable to find victory before the mid-season Brands Hatch round, he then struggled to miss the top step for the remainder of the year. Of course, it wasn’t all good, Brookes – as promised – shaved off his magnificent moustache after his double win, raising over £1500 for Movember in the process. Facial hair aside, Brookes announced his championship intentions this weekend and with two more solid circuits for the Aussie next up, another second-half championship charge could well be on.
Another second place for Glenn Irwin was not the result he desired, however once more he proved to Paul Bird that life without Shan Byrne atop one of his bikes is indeed possible – and potentially very fruitful. Like in the first race, his missed victory is not the end of the world, because his consistency over the course of this season, and the form he has built in that time, shows that his time will come for his first win, and you kind of get the feeling that it won’t be too long before he tastes the victory champagne.
A second podium of the weekend perhaps surpassed the expectations of Leon Haslam, but that is precisely what he got. He ran out of pace at the end to be able fight Irwin and Brookes, but two third places is better than he has gone in Brands Hatch for a while, and bodes well for the rest of his season.
Jake Dixon will be disappointed to have walked away from Brands Hatch without a podium, considering the pace he showed through practice, but in reality the result has not been too bad for him. He only lost two points – really – in the championship compared to Haslam and he had some decent speed across the weekend on one of – what you might call – his weaker tracks.
Fifth place for Tarran Mackenzie is not really enough to make up for the missed podium opportunity in race one, but both races showed his ability and potential, as he was fighting with the strongest riders in the championship throughout both. Also, the result of the second race is his first top ten of the season, which highlights the positive trend both he and the McAMS Yamaha team are on.
Sixth place went to Christian Iddon, who again struggled more towards the end of the race after a strong first half. He was ahead of Tommy Bridewell who completed a superb Moto Rapido Ducati debut with a seventh place, ahead of Danny Buchan, James Ellison and Peter Hickman who completed the top ten.
Michael Laverty was eleventh, but was happy with the second race as he felt he and the Tyco BMW team had found a decent direction for them to head in after a somewhat inconsistent first half of the season.
It was twelfth place for Andrew Irwin, so a step backwards on paper compared to race one, but at this stage in his BSB career he is doing nothing but learning, and no doubt he will be getting consistently stronger over the course of the rest of the season.
His crash in race one gave Luke Mossey an injured elbow, which is presumably, at least part of, the reason he finished only thirteenth in race two. Next up on the calendar is Thruxton, where Mossey had his big crash last year, which has set him back ever since – really – so it will be interesting to see how the number twelve reacts when the paddock arrives in Hampshire in a couple of weeks.
Another impressive ride from Chrissy Rouse saw him take fourteenth place, ahead of Jason O’Halloran who was the final points finisher.
A lowly sixteenth place for Bradley Ray shows the kind of struggle he had over the course of the weekend. Big changes were made to the Buildbase Suzuki before race two, but they clearly did little to improve the youngster’s feeling with the bike. Both Ray and the team will be hoping that the form of the early season will return in the next rounds, after the Suzuka 8 Hour has passed – in which Ray is riding for the factory Yoshimura Suzuki team.
Seventeenth place was Gino Rea’s, ahead of Mason Law, Martin Jessopp and Dean Harrison who completed the top twenty. Fraser Rogers was twenty-first, and then it was Luke Hedger, Shaun Winfield and Aaron Zanotti who was the final finisher in 24th.
There were only two retirements: Sylvain Barrier and the aforementioned Richard Cooper.
Featured Image courtesy of Ducati media