Josh Brookes will race HM Plant Honda at this weekend’s Bank Holiday Monday Oulton Park BSB round alongside fellow Aussie Glen Richards.
Brookes missed the first round of the series at Brands Hatch on April 13 due to difficulties in obtaining a visa and his place was taken by the team’s supersport-contracted star, Steve Plater.
But, according to HM Plant team boss Neil Tuxworth, the legalities have now been overcome and, after picking up his new visa from the British Embassy in Canberra yesterday, the 26-year-old from Sydney (he celebrated his birthday yesterday - April 28!) is currently jetting his way half way around the globe from Sydney, via Brisbane and Dubai, and is due to arrive in the UK at 19.45 tomorrow night.
The news that Brookes has been cleared to race in the UK puts an end to a series of rumours surrounding the second HM Plant Honda ride, suggesting Gregorio Lavilla had been offered the full-time ride but turned it down, that Michael Laverty was going to race for the team at Oulton, or that Plater would again sub for the absent Brookes.
Tuxworth said: “Josh is contracted to us and, after he missed the Brands round, it was always a priority to get his visa sorted in time for him to race at Oulton so we’ve worked hard behind the scenes to help him.
“The problem has been caused by a change in the government regulations and has affected several other riders. We had to compile a 51-page document (to supplement his application) and even then someone rang from the authorities asking us why we couldn’t use a local rider……We explained that there aren’t many UK riders with the same world-class credentials!”
Tuxworth admitted Wednesday was the cut-off deadline for Brookes. While the team was willing to accept him missing one race, missing a second would have virtually ruled him out of any chance of becoming a title challenger. Brookes’ contract includes a clause that it is the rider’s responsibility to make himself available for any HM Plant Honda team engagements.
But Tuxworth added: “We had several riders contact us about riding the bike at Oulton if Josh hadn’t been able to, but we never made any decision on a replacement because we always said we’d stick by the Wednesday deadline and we’re delighted Josh now has his visa. We will be picking him up at the airport tomorrow and taking him to Oulton!”