[B]e Wiser Ducati rider Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne took over the lead in the title race of the 2016 MCE British Superbike Championship with a podium and a victory at a dramatic round five of the series Shane Byrneheld at Snetterton in Norfolk today.
Aboard the factory-supported Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R, the 39-year-old Londoner stormed to pole position courtesy of a Datatag Superpole lap inside the lap record to start today’s first race from P1 on the grid but it very nearly all went wrong on the opening lap for the four-times champion when he was forced wide and onto the grass, re-joining in last position.
From there, Byrne showed his true class and aided by a new lap record, he tore through the field to claim a brilliant third at the chequered flag to record the 162nd MCE BSB podium finish of his career.
The new lap record meant that Shakey started race two from pole position again and he immediately grabbed the lead although he had a group of riders queuing up behind him. However, on lap six, he upped his pace and it allowed him to break away from the chasing pack, only Dan Linfoot able to go with him. Throughout the second half of the race though, Byrne controlled affairs from the head of the field and with the race ending early due to a red flag, he duly took his third win of the year, and the 71st of his career, to retake the championship lead.
Team-mate Glenn Irwin, meanwhile, started the first race from 11th place and with good pace throughout practice and qualifying he was hopeful of securing two good results. The race started well too as he moved up to a fine fifth place but the 26-year old’s race ended early when a technical problem with a gearshifter caused him to retire at the end of the fourth lap.
The Carrickfergus rider did, however, get to start the second race from the more advanced position of fifth on the grid. A poor start put him back in tenth but he regrouped and was soon back up to seventh, less than two seconds behind his team-mate. At half race distance he moved up to sixth and although he got pushed back a spot by Christian Iddon, seventh was a deserved way for his and the Penrith-based team’s weekend to end.
Shane Byrne: “The first race was very annoying as I had good pace and was confident that if I could get to the front I could manage the tyre and the race. Leon tried to pass me though and if I hadn’t have lifted the bike up we’d have both been down. I re-joined in dead last and abused my bike for the rest of the race, treating each lap like a qualifying lap. I paid the price towards the end with grip so I just brought the bike home for third. I knew tyre life would again come into play in the second race so I made a conscious decision to start steadily. I could see Dan was still with me towards the end of the race where I was all set to pull the pin in the last four laps but the red flag came out so it saved me the effort!”
Glenn Irwin: “The team made some good changes prior to the first race and it gave me the best feeling I’ve had all year so it looked like a podium was within our grasp. However, the bike started to Glenn Irwincut out quite considerably on lap five and I had to retire but luckily, we get two BSB races in a day and two chances of a result. In race two, I had to ride without a quickshifter but, after an average start, I was able to make some good progress and the bike’s certainly as quick as anything else out there now. I was losing grip so the red flag probably played into my hands and overall, it’s been a good weekend for me and I feel more confident now.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “It’s been an excellent day for Shakey although it’s obviously a shame about the coming together with Leon in race one. Had it not been for that we could have been looking at a double win but we’ve got to be pleased with first and third and with the championship lead ours once more, it’s very much onwards and upwards for Shakey. Glenn made good improvement in both races and it’s a shame an electrical problem caused him to drop out of the first race. We thought we’d cured it but it came back on his sighting lap so to ride for the entire race without a quickshifter was a great effort. His confidence is improving all the time and he had good race pace this weekend so he’s doing a great job.”
MCE British Superbike Championship Race One (16 laps)
1 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
2 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
3 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
4 Billy McConnell (Kawasaki)
5 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
6 Jake Dixon (BMW)
DNF Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two (12 laps)
1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
3 Michael Laverty (BMW)
4 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
6 Christian Iddon (BMW)
7 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship Standings (after five rounds)
1 Byrne 156pts
2 Haslam 152
3 O’Halloran 116
4 Linfoot 111
5 Iddon 104
6 Cooper 98
13 Irwin 34