On a circuit which has never been particularly kind to him, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was still the man to beat, taking pole position and a victory at Croft.
Before this year, Byrne had never even finished on the podium in North Yorkshire and that dreadful run of luck seemed to be continuing when he lost the lead to an engine failure. That temporarily handed the championship lead to John Hopkins who finished second.
The Londoner wouldn't be denied in race two though as he left the rest of the field trailing to win by 1.887s from Stuart Easton, with Hopkins on the podium in third. 'Shakey' now leads the championship by three points from Hopkins while the consistent Easton remains in contention, just three points further back.
“The first race was obviously disappointing for me and the HM Plant Honda team as I desperately wanted to win and do a good job for HM Plant at their home round. In the first race it was a gamble on tyres and we opted for slicks, but it was the right choice and we were able to build up a lead. We were unlucky to have a mechanical failure whilst leading as we have done so many miles on the bikes and it was just a shame it happened in the race.”
“The HM Plant Honda team then worked hard between the races to get me ready for race two and I had a bit of a strategy to just see how the race unfolded. We tried hard, settled down and then I just pushed to edge the gap and then tried to keep it consistent and control the lead. It was disappointment to elation for me in one day but we were able to end the day on a high and it was a great victory for myself and the HM Plant Honda team at our title sponsor's home round.”
There were contrasting fortunes though on the other side of the HM Plant Honda garage as Ryuichi Kiyonari had only one point to show for his efforts. It all started in qualifying when he narrowly squeezed into Q2, but got no further, and was forced to start 14th.
The Japanese rider then made the decision to start on wet tyres in the first race and paid the price, slipping all the way back to 25th. His poor pace also forced him to start race two towards the back of the grid and could only recover up to 15th.
The reigning BSB champion is now 36 points adrift of his teammate and has already set his sights on an improved display at Thruxton in two weeks time.
“It has been a difficult weekend for me and I have been trying many different changes but we still were running the same lap times, but we have worked hard to try and fix the problem. In the first race it was a decision on tyres and we thought it would rain more, so we went for wets but that was the wrong choice and I just couldn't push. In the second race I had to start so far down the grid because of race one and then it was hard work but we still made passes and moved forward. It is disappointing for me and the team but I want to try and be back on the podium at Thruxton.”
Team manager Havier Beltran admitted the team had difficulties when trying to set-up Kiyonari's bike in free practice, and is hopeful of avoiding the same issues at Thruxton.
“We have had issues with getting Kiyo where he needs to be which is disappointing for everyone, but we will be doing everything we can to put that right at Thruxton and return to winning ways.”
“For Shakey it was disappointment too in the first race with an engine failure as we really believed he could have taken a double win here today. The fact that until today the highest he had finished here at Croft was fourth shows he could have taken the first double of the season. It was a great win for Shakey and we are happy that HM Plant Honda and the Fireblade still lead the overall standings after this weekend.”