BATTLE OF BRITAIN: “We want to go one better this year” – Brooke

With round one of the Battle of Britain taking place this weekend, we’ve caught up with 2017 HSBC UK Elite GP champion, Josh Brooke, of the South East and Eastern team, ahead of their crunch match with last year’s elite men’s runners up, the Midlands.

The South East and East and the Midlands traded away victories in two intense matches last series. Brooke is expecting another close run match between the rivals.

“The Midlands are a solid unit.” said Brooke. “Their team is built around the Wednesfield model, with top guys like Myke Grimes and Chris Timms added in, and we’re going to have to be strong from 1-8.

“They’re going to look to be powerful from the tapes and slow the racing down to bring their team partners into play, so we have to be equally as organised.”

The series ended on a slightly flat note in September, with confusion over whether or not a play off should take place to decide the winners after the Midlands and SE&E tied at the top the table, in the end it was confirmed the SE&E had won on points difference. This year, it has already been confirmed there will be a play off if any teams are tied on points. That is not a concern for Brooke though, as he hopes his team will take the series outright this year.

“We’re looking to go one better than last year and win the title without any doubt as to whether we’ve won or not. We all felt a little disappointed with the reaction to us winning on points difference, and now we know we can do it, there’s no excuses not to retain the title.”

Talking about his own team, the Great Blakenham rider is confident the SE&E will be stronger than last year: “Adam Peck is looking sharp so far, having recently switched to a Pedal Power machine. He was the top scorer in the recent Great Blakenham v Ipswich match, and Richie Fellgett also looked quick at Cookson Park last weekend, finishing a decent 6th place in the first round of the HSBC UK Elite GP.

South East & East’s team v North & Scotland in 2017 series. Photo by Phil Clarke.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of our young guns making a telling contribution this year, with Pierce Bacon and Lewis Brinkhoff, incredibly still only 15, both looking to make the break through and with their current pace, they are more than capable of scoring match winning points against the best come race day.”

Looking at the rest of the series, the North and Scotland and South West and Wales look to have stronger squads that last season, something which will boost the competition as well as their chances.

Brooke commented: “Dawid Bas will be a huge asset to the South West and Wales’ cause, after struggling for rider availability last year when many tipped them for the title this time last year.

“On his day he is one of the quickest riders going, and if they can give him solid backing, then they could mount a serious challenge this year.

“With the addition of Steve Harris, and if Andy Angell is racing properly this year, then the North and Scotland could push a few teams closer this time around. They have a good core of young riders, with the likes of Reece Pollitt and Ben Higham giving 110% every match last year, getting very little reward for their effort.

Action from SW&W v SE&E in 2017 Battle of Britain. Photo by Peter Payne.

“I think everyone is hoping for a season full of close matches and an even closer league table come the end, so hopefully everyone can get a solid 8 out for every match.”

Fingers crossed those hopes turn into reality. If each region could track their best 8 riders in every round, the spectators will be in for some top quality Cycle Speedway action around the UK.

Find out the results of round one on Sunday evening on 33/18 News.

Cover photo by Andy Whitehouse.