ALL-ACTION Aussie Josh Brookes has a gilt-edged opportunity to land his maiden British Superbike title this weekend for Northern Ireland’s Tyco Suzuki team.
Brookes is just nine points behind series leader and Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki protagonist Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne with the final three races of the Showdown taking centre stage at Brands Hatch on Saturday and Sunday.
The top two in the championship are expected to produce a climatic finale, but WFR Honda’s Alex Lowes has forced his way into the equation and is something of a dark horse following his magnificent double at Silverstone last time out.
Third-placed Lowes, who is 15 points behind Brookes and 24 adrift of Byrne, will require more than a little luck on his side if he’s to pull off a massive championship shock, but it is not an insurmountable deficit with a maximum haul of 75 points up for grabs at the Kent circuit.
Byrne, though, has an excellent record at Brands - the double BSB champion’s home track and twice defeated Brookes on the full-size GP course on his way to a brace in July.
The 35-year-old starts as the slight favourite given his marginal advantage at the top of the table, but Brookes won’t go down without a fight and the Bringelly man admits he has his ‘best chance’ ever of landing the coveted accolade.
Brookes, runner-up to Ryuichi Kiyonari in 2010 when the pair competed in the HM Plant Honda colours, said: “Mathematically this is the strongest position I have been in going into the last round so in that respect this is my best chance.
“The six of us are all equally trying to achieve the same goal; we have the same motivation. I have had pressure of championships before when I raced back home in Australia and it is no different to the situation now,” added Brookes, who was a double winner at Donington Park last month on the GSX-R1000.
“My team are in the best position they can be. I will be riding as hard as I can and to the best of my ability and that is most important.
“The results are already set in the fact that we can’t do any more than we have already; we will have to wait and see now how it unfolds.”
Toomebridge man Michael Laverty’s hopes of challenging for the title are effectively over as he lies fifth in the standings, 49 points behind Byrne.
However, the Samsung Honda rider will be no less determined to end the 2012 season on the podium and could snatch fourth place overall from reigning champion and Swan Yamaha contender Tommy Hill, with just seven points separating the pair.
Hill’s ambition of retaining the title suffered a crushing setback at Assen when he was a retirement in race one and he heads into the final weekend of the campaign 42 points behind Byrne.