Motorcycling: Confident Brookes earns pole

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The Independent Online

Australian Josh Brookes will start from pole position on his Tyco Suzuki in the opening round of the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch today as a record contingent of eight foreign riders pressures the home competitors.

Jon Kirkham, 27, is second fastest on his Samsung Honda, from Shane Byrne on a Kawasaki. But the Frenchman Freddy Foray and the Japanese Noriyuki Haga will make it three foreigners in the top six on the grid in what is expected to be a wet race.

"The Suzuki works really well in the wet, and that fills me with confidence for the race," Brookes said.

Reigning champion Tommy Hill crashed his Yamaha in yesterday's slippery conditions and another contender, the Ulsterman Michael Laverty, failed to get in a quick lap before the rain came down.

Britain's premier motorcycling championship now looks like football's Premier League as foreigners make up a quarter of the 30-strong grid. Four of the last seven titles have gone abroad and Haga, 37, could well be the series' greatest capture yet.