Shane Byrne clinches his fifth MCE British Superbike title
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne held his nerve at Brands Hatch to win a fifth MCE British Superbike crown. Broc Parkes set the fastest ever British Superbike lap on the Brands Hatch GP circuit in Q2 qualifying (1:24.769) on Pirelli’s Diablo Superbike Slick tyres.
Rainfall before the final qualifying session meant riders then switched tyres. Tommy Bridewell took his first ever pole position, using full rain tyres whilst Christian Iddon was second fastest with an intermediate wet front and slick rear tyre.
Race one started with all riders on slicks but after several restarts and falling rain, the race commenced on full rain tyres. Race two saw all riders taking to a damp circuit on slicks which turned out to be the right decision as the track quickly dried out. The final race of the season was completely dry as most of the grid opted for the softer (SC0) rear Pirelli Diablo Superbike Slick with the main exception being again Leon Haslam choosing his favoured harder SC1 rear tyre. Haslam combined this with his usual SC2 front tyre choice. This race supplied the fastest laps of the weekend, culminating with Byrne’s lap of 1:25.516.
The three race format coupled with changeable weather and several race stoppages put considerable pressure on the race organisers and riders themselves as the schedule was altered over the weekend.
The big news of Saturday’s qualifying session was Leon Haslam’s crash, which left him in a lowly 17th on the grid, back on row six. Saturday’s first outing started in dry conditions but several accidents and restarts meant the expected late rainfall caught up with proceedings. Having worked his way up through the pack Haslam seemed poised to take advantage in the final restart but slipped off heavily on the run down from Druids Bend. James Ellison led in tricky conditions before he also slipped off, leaving his JG Speedfit Kawasaki teammate Peter Hickman to take the win.
Race two was declared a ‘wet race’ and although the skies remained overcast, the track was quickly drying as Ellison took and then held the lead throughout the race for his first win of the year. However all eyes were on Byrne and Haslam as they stalked each other on track and in the overall points standings. Byrne managed to finish just behind his great rival to take his fifth title to the joy of his local Kent fans.
The final race was also curtailed early as oil was left on the circuit after a machine blow-up, needing a full clean up. When the action resumed it was a ten lap dash with some fantastic racing as Ellison took his second win and John Hopkins a runner-up place, his best position of the year.
Ex-magazine road tester Byrne showed his skills to the crowd with some wheelies, burn-outs and an impressive rolling ‘stoppie’ on his Ducati Panigale before being mobbed by his team.
Pirelli UK racing manager Jason Griffiths commented: “The mixed weather conditions certainly provided a challenge in terms of tyre selection and we saw all the options used at some point across the weekend. The softer SC0 solution was used to win both of the dry races by James Ellison and coped well with the lower track temperatures we experienced today. Congratulations to Shane Byrne and the PBM team on their Championship win and our thanks to everyone involved in what has been an incredibly exciting BSB series.”