Josh Brookes was denied a hat-trick of wins by a machine problem in the third race of the seventh round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Snetterton and that cost the Aussie the lead in the title stakes as Tommy Hill, running second to Ryuichi Kiyonari regained the advantage by two points.
Brookes had won the opening race, held over from the weather ravaged Knockhill round, on Saturday afternoon with a last lap move on his HM Plant Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari with Hill, riding the Worx Crescent Suzuki running third from the RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati of Michael Rutter.
Then, despite having come out on top in the Swan Combi Roll for Pole, Brookes made life difficult for himself with a sluggish start from the front of the grid in the first of the two Sunday afternoon races, to be running sixth on an opening lap led by Rutter from Hill with Kiyonari third from Michael Laverty on the Relentless Suzuki and Swan Honda’s James Ellison.
Brookes was gaining places to be running third on the fourth lap, but by then Kiyonari had pulled out with a machine problem, leaving the front running duel to Rutter and Hill, but they were soon feeling the heat from the determined Brookes.
He moved second on the seventh lap and took Rutter a further seven laps into the race as he slowed with a gear shift problem. Alastair Seeley and Ellison ran ahead of Hill with Ellison showing his Brands Hatch opening round form, prior to the tumble at Thruxton in which he sustained a broken leg soon going second.
Hill attacked Ellison, going through to take second place as Brookes completed his second win, reflecting: “I messed up the start and had to work for it but was comfortable with the passes. It was a shame that some of the others had mechanical problems but I am sure that I could have taken them.”
Ellison, fourth in that race, made a great start to the final race, heading off Brookes with Michael Laverty third from Kiyonari and Hill, but soon Kiyonari was running third and harassing his team-mate, moving ahead of him on the seventh lap and two laps later taking the lead from Ellison.
Ellison strayed off-line and Brookes nipped into second place, but not for long before he was sidelined by a machine problem. Kiyonari was leading from Michael Laverty with Rutter third as the Safety Car was deployed as Ellison crashed in a tangle with Seeley.
Kiyonari duly completed his fourth win of the season, and his sixth at the circuit, finishing half a second clear of Hill who had finally found a way ahead of Michael Laverty with three laps remaining.
For Hill second best was good enough, putting him back on top in the title stakes and he reflected: “We’ve re-grouped, gelled back and come out fighting. Now we are back to where we need to be, and where we should be.
“The team have worked hard, we’ve had out ups and downs and problems along the way but these three podiums show were are back.The final race here was tough, but halfway through I clawed them in, and felt comfortable,” he added.
Steve Brogan, riding Jentin BMW won all three Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class races and that put the Liverpudlian back ahead in the title chase 246-241 over Hudson Kennaugh who having switched to riding Splitlath Aprilia took a fifth and two third places.
For the record
Saturday, race one - 18 laps
Josh Brookes (HM Plant Honda) 19m 41.650s
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.594s
Tommy Hill (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +4.475s
Michael Rutter (Ridersmotorcycles.com Ducati) +4.989s
Alastair Seeley (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.485s
Michael Laverty (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +5.889s
James Ellison (Swan Honda) +9.148s
Simon Andrews (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +11.305s
Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +14.364s
Tommy Bridewell (Quay Garage Honda) +14.386s
Sunday, race two - 22 laps
Josh Brookes (HM Plant Honda) 24m 13.327s
Tommy Hill (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +1.472s
Alastair Seeley (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +2.740s
James Ellison (Swan Honda) +3.757s
Michael Laverty (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +4.152s
Tommy Bridewell (Quay Garage Honda) +15.640s
Chris Walker (Sorrymate.com SMT Honda) +17.779s
Stuart Easton (Swan Honda) +18.417s
Simon Andrews (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +18.880s
John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) +19.131s
Sunday, race three - 24 laps
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 26m 52.964s
Tommy Hill (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +0.591s
Michael Laverty (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.954s
Michael Rutter (Ridersmotorcycles.com Ducati) +1.584s
John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) +3.897s
Simon Andrews (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +4.899s
Chris Walker (Sorrymate.com SMT Honda) +6.127s
Andrew Pitt (Motorpoint Yamaha) +8.211s
Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +8.349s
Yukio Kagayama (Worx Crescent Suzuki) +9.566s
Tommy Hill (Worx Crescent Suzuki) 218
Josh Brookes (HM Plant Honda) 216
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 193
Michael Laverty (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) 183
Michael Rutter (Ridersmotorcycles.com Ducati) 165
John Laverty (Buildbase Kawasaki) 129
Next round: Brands Hatch 6/7/8 August