Shane Byrne needs just two points from the final race of the season to clinch his third British Superbike title after another lights-to-flag victory in the second race at Brands Hatch. The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider held his nerve despite two safety car periods but Josh Brookes took a hard-fought second to take the title fight down to the wire.
As in race one, Alex Lowes started from pole position but history would continue to repeat itself for the WFR Honda rider as Byrne beat him into Paddock Hill bend. ‘Shakey’ was followed by his teammate Stuart Easton but the Scotsman couldn’t act as rear gunner for too long as Lowes, Michael Laverty and Brookes all passed him on lap two.
The frontrunners all received a shock as Barry Burrell stormed up behind them but just as the Buildbase BMW rider was beginning to mount a challenge, the safety car was called into action. Tristan Palmer had crashed heavily and was receiving medical attention trackside, necessitating the safety car, but thankfully he was able to walk away in the end.
When the race resumed under green flag conditions, Burrell simply picked up where he left off and dived past Brookes into Surtees. The Bishop Auckland rider wasn’t in fourth for long, taking Laverty for third at Paddock Hill bend on lap six and next time he arrived at turn one, Alex Lowes was relinquishing second.
With Byrne bringing an eighteen point lead into race two, Brookes faced the possibility of losing any hope of the championship. At half-distance, he attacked Laverty for third and was rewarded thanks to an error by the Ulsterman at Graham Hill bend. Two laps later, Lowes came under threat for third but this move resulted in contact at Druids. The 22 year old immediately started coasting and his subsequent retirement put a mathematical end to his championship campaign.
WFR Honda’s involvement in the race was ended completely on lap fifteen when James Westmoreland slid off at Clearways. For the second time, the safety car was required while Westmoreland came around but that didn’t halt Brookes’ charge as the Australian snatched second from Burrell three laps after the restart.
Byrne was a comfortable victor though with Michael Laverty joining Brookes on the podium after passing Burrell at Hawthorns. Tommy Bridewell claimed a solid fifth ahead of Tommy Hill whose hopes of defending his title are officially over while Stuart Easton held off Jon Kirkham and Noriyuki Haga for seventh.