Brands Hatch, October 19-20: a sumptuous stage for the BSB showdown.
Bikes are Mat Oxley’s territory and will not become a regular part of this column (despite the evidence of two consecutive issues), but my first live British Superbike experience was too enriching not to merit mention.
The stage, of course, was borderline perfect: as has been mentioned before (quite often), the Brands Hatch GP circuit is a paragon of splendour and serves as a perfect complement to anything with wheels. And then there was the intensity of the title fight, with Shane Byrne and Alex Lowes separated by one point while Josh Brookes, James Ellison and James Westmoreland remained in contention, leastways mathematically.
It’s a long time since I’ve seen Brands Hatch’s terraces, paddock and, indeed, media centre quite so busy — an atmosphere, then, to suit the occasion. Nor could the tension have been scripted: Brookes took straightforward victories in races one and three, but won the second only after his tyre strategy paid dividends at the final corner. That was almost incidental, though, as the top two shadowed each other’s every move. Lowes just beat Byrne in the first race, to take a slender championship lead… and held it after both tumbled, separately, in the second. Byrne stormed through the field to pass Lowes and reclaim the advantage during the finale, but Lowes nipped ahead again before the end to secure the title.
After the flag, they paused at the foot of Paddock Hill, hugged each other and performed burnouts for an appreciative audience. Note that neither received a reprimand for their effervescence.
I’ll be back…