Josh Brookes’ nightmare start to the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike championship got no better at Brands Hatch with a solution still to be found for his rear grip woes.
The 2015 champion struggled to break into the top ten throughout most of the weekend’s sessions with disaster striking in qualifying when he was unable to progress from the opening Q1 session, leaving him 20th on the grid.
The McAMS Yamaha team opted to go back to basics for Sunday morning, switching from their factory swing arm to a standard R1 arm, which a member of the team had to drive from Brands Hatch to Blackpool (and back!) to collect on Saturday night.
There was some solace for the Aussie in the wet race two as he fought through to a solid fifth position, but with the steps made at Brands this weekend more of a tip toe than a leap, next week’s Oulton test will prove vital to the factory-backed squad.
“Unfortunately, the improvements we’ve made to the bike have all been small chips,” Brookes explained. “The changes made overnight on Saturday weren’t ‘oh my god the bike is so much better’ but I did feel more confident with the bike on Sunday.
“We’ve got to confirm or get to the bottom of why I’m lacking rear end grip. The issue is with exit grip, we’re gaining on people on the brakes, the bike can hold a line as good as anyone else but as soon as it comes to opening the throttle I feel that’s where I’m missing out.
“It’s a shock to me to be in this position as much as it is to everyone else. I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing so far back but I have to accept what it is, the positions I’m achieving are the best I can do for the time being. To my standards fifth would usually be a little disappointing, but I have to take whatever I can get at this point.”
The McAMS Yamaha squad were back out on track at Silverstone yesterday as they continue to search for a solution.