The 2020 BSB British Superbike season was one of the hardest fought, improbable and thrilling ever. In the Brands Hatch grand finale, which took place over the past weekend, the three scheduled races marked the definitive triumph of Josh Brookes and VisionTrack PBM Ducati. In his second year with the team run by Paul Bird, the Australian thus managed to repeat the success of 2015 when he raced with Milwaukee Yamaha. It was a triumph that culminated with a double win on the renowned track located near West Kingsdown (in the English county of Kent).
Because of the health emergency linked to the spread of COVID-19, the BSB calendar was completely revolutionized by the promoter MSV Racing: no Showdowns (the so-called end-of-season playoffs reserved for the top six of the drivers' classification), only six events with three races each. A painful decision, but necessary to deal with the situation. Strictly behind closed doors, all eighteen races turned out to be a real lottery with eight different winners, in pure BSB style.
Fresh from a 2019 as a protagonist, just edged out with a handful of points by his teammate Scott Redding, Josh Brookes lined up at the start of this season as favourite. However, numerous adversaries and factors of a technical nature soon emerged as the season wore on: first Honda Racing UK with the brand new CBR 1000RR-R SP ridden by brothers Andrew and Glenn Irwin, his new team-mate Christian Iddon, in addition to the two Yamaha McAMS riders Jason O'Halloran and Tarran Mackenzie on the updated YZF-R1 and (last but not least) the introduction of the new larger 200/65 tyre by supplier Pirelli.
Precisely this final aspect helped to reshuffle the cards in British Superbike. Already used in World Superbike last season, the new rear construction totally shook up the values on the track in the first races: after a long time the subject of tyres was back at the forefront in BSB, with teams having major problems of front-end chattering (a result of the 200/65 tyre's greater grip on the asphalt).
In the first few outings, those who suffered most were the three Ducati Panigale V4Rs on the grid. The VisionTrack PBM team, despite a poor debut at the Donington 'National' circuit, from the next round at Snetterton onwards tried to compensate for the problem with a series of measures. Compared to the other rivals, they did not work solely and exclusively on the set-up of the bike, but the riders also compensated by riding around the problems.
This was the case of Josh Brookes who, although not dominating as in 2019 together with Redding and Bridewell, gradually began to bring home the results in his own inimitable way. With his first win of 2020 in the second round, starting from Oulton Park the BSB "Bad Boy" changed his attitude in parallel with the first important surprise: the retirement in Race 2 of Glenn Irwin, the real star of the season until then. A zero that relaunched the Australian's ranking.
A win in the second race on Donington Park's 'Grand Prix' layout put him in the lead of the championship. Getting onto the top step of the podium as points leader positively unlocked his potential and Brookes was then able to showcase all his experience gained over the last few years. Once he arrived at Brands Hatch, the track where he has scored the most wins in British Superbike, the attacks of the others in the final races came to nothing, especially by Jason O'Halloran (first of the chasing group). While in Race 1 he found himself off the podium, in the remaining two nothing could be done about the Aussie, who scored a masterpiece double win, with the 20 laps of Race 3 ending with a single second advantage over the McAMS Yamaha duo.
For Josh Brookes it was his second career title, none other than the fourth for the Paul Bird Motorsport-Ducati pairing: two won with Shane "Shakey" Byrne and the twin-cylinder Panigale R in 2016 and 2017, the same again with the Panigale V4R. A great achievement that places (even if not directly) the Italian flag at the top of the UK’s domestic series. Now, the riders and teams are already focussed on 2021, when the BSB British Superbike championship kicks off at Oulton Park (1-2-3 May).