[T]he Be Wiser Ducati team of Shane Byrne and Glenn Irwin will line up on the first and second rows for tomorrow’s opening MCE British Superbike Championship race at round three at Oulton Park Shane Byrneafter qualifying in pole position and fifth place respectively.
Having set the second and sixth fastest times respectively on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R during the three free practice sessions, both Byrne and Irwin were in good shape heading into today’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session and comfortably progressed from Q1 to Q2.
The 12-minute Q2 saw the duo set near identical times with Sittingbourne’s Byrne in second and Carrickfergus rider Irwin in third, hopes were high for having both riders on the front row.
The final eight-minute Q3 session saw a few spots of rain starting to fall meaning the pressure was on to get a fast lap early. Both riders did exactly that and it was Byrne who was fastest from the off and a time of 1m 34.016s, the fastest of the entire weekend, sent him to the top of the leaderboard. Regular rival Leon Haslam did manage a late flying lap which was just under two-tenths of a second slower.
Irwin, meanwhile, was also in the mix with his time of 1m 34.955s placing him fifth with the rain spots preventing him from challenging his time in Q2.
The result was Byrne’s first pole position of the season and his 51st career pole position which was timely given the defending champion’s frustrating start to the season, meaning he’ll be looking to make amends in tomorrow’s two races.
Shane Byrne: “I’m not really a pole position man and it’s not something I’m overly fussed about, being on the front row is the main thing. But I’m obviously pleased, not just for myself but also for the team as it’s a local round for them. We’ve chipped away all weekend with the bike and have constantly improved throughout the two days and we’ve got the bike in a pretty good place. I wanted to do the lap on my own but I was a little bit cautious due to the spots of rain but it was a still a good lap and with a good advantage at the time, I didn’t want to risk anything. It’s a big boost for the team and we’ll be hoping for more of the same tomorrow.”
Glenn Irwin: “I’m pleased with fifth and the boys in the team have worked hard all weekend so it’s the least they deserve. Despite missing the test last week, we’ve been on the pace right from the off and Glenn IrwinI’ve been able to give the team good feedback so that each time I’ve gone out on track, the bike’s been better. They have understood exactly what I’ve needed with the bike and although Q1 was a bit frustrating, the other two sessions went really well. It’s my best ever qualifying position in the dry and the SC0 tyre is working really well so I’m confident we have a good race pace to get two good results.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “We’re happy with today’s outcome and to have both bikes on the first two rows is a great result. It was a great lap by Shakey and a good performance by him to get his first pole position of the year. His race pace looks really good so we’re hoping for two dry races and, hopefully, our first win of the year. It was a fine qualifying result for Glenn as well, his best ever performance since joining the team actually, so with his race pace equally as good, we’re more than hopeful for two strong results from his side of the garage.”
Tomorrow’s two 18-lap races are scheduled to get underway at 1.30pm and 4.30pm respectively.
Datatag Extreme Qualifying Positions
1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)
4 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
5 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)