The FHO Racing BMW Motorrad team got the second round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship off to a flying start at Oulton Park today, with Josh Brookes claiming his first pole position of the season, and storming to victory in the opening race aboard the BMW M 1000 RR.
The weekend so far has been positive for Faye Ho’s BMW squad, with Peter Hickman fastest overall, and Brookes fifth in yesterday’s practice sessions at the Cheshire track. As both riders finished practice inside the top 12 at the end of the first day, they progressed straight into today’s Q2 session.
With rain showers earlier in the day, the eBay Qualifying session was a gamble with tyre choice on a drying track. As conditions improved, positions at the front constantly changed as times continued to tumble, and with 30 seconds remaining Brookes clinched the Omologato pole position, with Hickman qualifying eighth.
Lining up with a clear track ahead of him Brookes controlled the race, and despite numerous challenges from Leon Haslam, he remained ahead of the pack throughout. During the penultimate lap, the Bike Social Sprint Race was red flagged due to rain starting to fall, and Brookes recorded his second win of the season, and BMW’s first at Oulton Park since 2016.
Meanwhile Hickman made great progress and having started from eighth by the end of the second lap he’d worked his way up to fourth. Lap by lap the Lincolnshire rider started to reel in the group ahead, and when the race was declared he was just 0.711s from third place.
Tomorrow (Monday 1 May), there are two longer BSB races, where for Race 2 Hickman will line up on the front row in second place and Brookes just behind in fifth.
The ABK Beer 0% BMW Motorrad F 900 R Cup, also saw FHO Racing claim a further pole position and another Heat 1 win with Richard Cooper. Kate Walker crossed the line 12th in Heat 2.
It was obviously great to take the win today, it’s good for all the team, sponsors and partners involved. It probably looked like I was out at the front having an easy time and controlling the race, but it was actually quite difficult because I was that first rider on track. I could see my lap times on my dash and I wasn’t impressed by any means, so I tried to improve as I was expecting an attack from the riders behind me. I had a few moments where the rear would spin and I’d lose some time, so I just focussed on trying to be as methodical as possible and not make any mistakes, not improve the lap time but just maintain it.
Towards the end with the rain I desperately didn’t want to put my hand up, I could see the rain on the lap before on the visor, then when I came through to Island Bend on the penultimate lap it was red flagged. I know it was the only option, but I would have liked to have taken the win over the finish line with the chequered flag. The BMW felt really sweet in the race, but we’re always trying to improve. In the race we really did hit a sweet spot and it did feel really good to ride. So hopefully that accelerates us even further tomorrow.
The weekend started well in the dry, we were super-fast in practice, and we didn’t change the tyre at the end of the session, so it was on an old tyre which was nice as we went fastest than everyone else. Today for qualifying it wasn’t the best conditions for me, we went out on intermediates, which I’m not particularly keen on, but I ended up eighth on the grid and I was happy enough with that.
I got a good start off the line for the race, but unfortunately I got caught up in Jason’s crash, which let the front three really get away, I got up to fourth and wasn’t too far from third place. The whole race then was really just me trying to catch the front three, but with the rain we didn’t get the last two laps as it was red flagged. I think if we’d have had the full distance I would have been able to have a go at third place, so it’s a shame it didn’t as I would have liked to have seen what we could have done on the last lap. We’ve shown we have the pace, and tomorrow I’m starting from the front row in second place. The BMW is working well and it was great to see Josh take the win again. Finishing first and fourth for the team is a really decent start to the weekend.
Faye Ho – Team Principal:
What a start to our weekend here at Oulton Park, with a pole position and Josh taking his second win of the season. The conditions haven’t been too kind to us all, and we’ve had limited track time, but I’m so pleased for Josh, Pete and the whole team to bring home a first and a fourth today. I’m hoping the weather tomorrow will be kinder to us, and I’m looking forward to two longer races and seeing where FHO Racing BMW Motorrad ends up.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, BikeSocial Sprint Race result:
- Josh Brookes (FHO Racing BMW Motorrad)
- Leon Haslam (ROKiT BMW Motorrad) +0.186s
- Glenn Irwin (BeerMonster Ducati) +0.441s
- Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW Motorrad) +1.152s
- Tommy Bridewell (BeerMonster Ducati) +4.790s
- Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing UK) +4.977s
- Kyle Ryde (LAMI OMG Yamaha Racing) +13.661s
- Christian Iddon (Oxford Products Racing Ducati) +13.784s
- Storm Stacey (Starline Racing Kawasaki) +13.987s
- Lee Jackson (Cheshire Mouldings Kawasaki) +14.093s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, eBay Qualifying result:
- Josh Brookes (FHO Racing BMW Motorrad) 1m:42.543s
- Leon Haslam (ROKiT BMW Motorrad) +0.660s
- Storm Stacey (Starline Racing Kawasaki) +0.920s
- Glenn Irwin (BeerMonster Ducati) +0.934s
- Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +1.072s
- Luke Mossey (Tactix by Lloyd & Jones BMW) +1.972s
- Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing UK) +2.011s
- Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW Motorrad) +2.126s
- Jack Kennedy (Mar-Train Yamaha) +2.381s
- Tim Neave (McAMS Yamaha) +2.874s