Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit 21 April
Shane “Shakey” Byrne kicked off his bid to take the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown for a record fourth time in stunning style as he held off the opposition to win both races in the opening round at his home circuit of Brands Hatch.
The Rapid Solicitors rider had bounced back after starting from the fifth row of the grid for the opening race after crashing in qualifying yesterday, but he was up for the challenge and remarkably was running seventh on the opening lap as Chris Walker aboard the Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki forged ahead at the front.
Byrne was carving through the pack though and soon had moved to second, closing down Walker at half distance when the race was halted after James Hillier’s Quattro Plant Kawasaki suffered a technical problem dropping oil on the track. On the re-start Walker led briefly before Byrne forced his way ahead to win by 1.615s whilst James Ellison aboard the second Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki ran solidly in third to give the team their first podium finishes in MCE BSB ahead of Gearlink Kawasaki’s Ben Wilson.
Byrne took charge from the start in race two, running ahead of his team-mate Stuart Easton with Walker in third and Ellison in fourth, whilst behind them Josh Brookes was powering his Milwaukee Yamaha into contention. The Aussie who had crashed three times in qualifying had also slid out in the opening race and he was keen to set the record straight.
Brookes was riding hard to be in third place at two thirds distance and attacking Ellison whilst Byrne continued to lead. However the Milwaukee Yamaha rider hadn’t given up on his chance of victory and Brookes passed Ellison to go second and then closed in on Byrne. On the final lap Byrne had the narrow edge to complete the double, taking his victory tally to 53 in the series and taking the lead in the overall standings.
Byrne said: “This is the perfect start to the championship for me and it really has been a great team effort and I am proud of the boys for the work they’ve done to turn the bike around after the crashes. I’m feeling a bit second hand after two crashes but winning is a wonderful drug, although I’m ready for a day or two off now before Oulton Park!”
Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit 20-21 April
Datatag Extreme qualifying:
Josh Brookes claimed his first MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship pole position with Milwaukee Yamaha at Brands Hatch today with a bullish performance as he bounced back from three crashes to snatch the top spot from triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari ahead of tomorrow’s two races.
The Aussie escaped unscathed after crashing three times during a wet and frantic Datatag Extreme qualifying session which caught out a number of riders, including local favourite and three times former champion Shane Byrne who will start from the fifth row of the grid for the opening race.
Brookes crashed out in the first part of qualifying, but he made it back to his pit garage for the team to repair his Milwaukee Yamaha. However within minutes of returning to the action, he was dramatically down again, but the team repaired the bike and he was soon back on circuit.
Their efforts were rewarded by Brookes who bounced back superbly, putting in a lap to take the 20th pole start of his MCE BSB career, only to high-side off moments later and he reflected: “Three crashes, but I still have pole position. It was so slippery out there and I guess I’ve had the highs and the lows. It was heart in the mouth stuff but we will be ready for the races tomorrow.”
Starting alongside Brookes is Japanese rider Ryuichi Kiyonari who makes his debut with Buildbase BMW. He was denied his first pole start in four years by a split second while on a fully International front row American John Hopkins set the third best time on his debut with Tyco Suzuki.
Chris Walker on the Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki, James Westmoreland on the second Buildbase BMW and Richard Cooper on the Anvil Hire TAG Racing Kawasaki start from the second row ahead of Gearlink Kawasaki’s Ben Wilson, Bathams BMW’s Michael Rutter and Keith Farmer on the PR Racing Kawasaki.
Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit 19-21 April
BROOKES CLOSES ON LAP RECORD AS 19 RIDERS COVERED BY LESS THAN A SECOND
Free practice two:
Australian Josh Brookes closed in on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit lap record as he headed off the challenges of local hero Shane “Shakey” Byrne in free practice for the Easter Monday opening round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
The Aussie had made significant changes across the two sessions to his Milwaukee Yamaha and in the frantic afternoon session he was able to fire in a series of consistent laps, the best of which a 45.506s was just 0.0046s adrift of the lap record set in 2007 by Gregorio Lavilla.
Brookes said: “I’m really pleased with how the afternoon has gone and we have had some good benefits across the day. The changes we have made have been good value for money in terms of paying off. I’ve been able to do good lap times on longer runs on an old tyre and I feel good about that. They say that Shakey is the Master of Brands Hatch but I am ready to give him a run for his money now. We are ready for anything and today’s final laps nicely put a bow on the end of the sessions.”
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne is firmly in the frame to add to his record haul of 51 race victories having been duelling for the top spot on the time sheets throughout the session with Brookes as just 0.171s separated them. However the pack are all in close contention with just 0.977s covering the top 19 riders at the end of the second session.
Czech Republic rider Jakub Smrz aboard the Millsport Ducati set the third best lap with a time, a split second up on Flying Scot Stuart Easton, who is back in the top flight on the back of winning last year’s Motorpoint British Supersport title.
RAF Reserves Honda’s Simon Andrews set the ninth fastest time as five different manufacturers featured in the top ten ahead of Martin Jessopp on the RidersRacing BMW.
Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit 18-21 April
Friday test session:
A determined Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne got his assault for a record-breaking fourth MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title off to the best possible start at his home round of Brands Hatch, edging out Australian Josh Brookes in the closing stages of the opening test session.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne, still smarting on missing out on the title in the final round of last season, was instantly on the pace throughout a closely fought session as he prepares for Easter Monday’s races in which he intends to extend his record of 51 race wins.
Byrne closed towards the record with a best lap of 45.785s, but the local hero was not totally satisfied and expects more as the weekend continues. He explained: “Generally speaking when I get on the bike I go out and enjoy it and go faster, but for some reason today it just didn’t click. We had things to try and we achieved that, but that said I am happy enough but there is still plenty of room for improvement.”
He had outpaced Brookes who switched to the Milwaukee Yamaha team during the winter by 0.125s. The Australian had been the early pace-setter in the session but was forced to relinquish the position in the final stages.
Brookes is also expecting improvements ahead of the opening two races, he said: “We made changes to improve the bike, but, that also meant we made sacrifices in some areas and now we have to compromise. As a whole to come in P2 to Shakey is less than satisfactory, but having done 34 laps on the same tyre, in hindsight, I should be happy.”
Flying Scot Stuart Easton, back in the top class as Byrne’s team-mate, fresh from winning last year’s Motorpoint British Supersport crown, set the third fastest time ahead of Chris Walker on the Lloyds British GB Moto Kawasaki.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, also bidding to take the MCE BSB title for a fourth time, settled quickly into a rhythm with the Buildbase BMW, to set the fifth fastest time, a split second up on the returning American John Hopkins. The Tyco Suzuki rider is aiming to avenge missing out on the crown by just 0.006s to Tommy Hill back in 2011.
MCE BRITISH SUPERBIKES AND ITV EXTEND BROADCAST AGREEMENT INTO 2018 SEASON