Shane Byrne made history as the first ever four-time British Superbike champion by winning the second race of the weekend on Sunday at Brands Hatch. With injury ruling out Ryuichi Kiyonari, Byrne needed fourth place or better to seal the championship but the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider clinched it in style with a comprehensive victory.
Kiyonari’s decision beforehand to withdraw effectively handed the title to Byrne before the race had started but thirteen points were still needed to rubberstamp the champion, not a straightforward task from the third row of the grid. ‘Shakey’ made steady progress through the field early on, passing the Milwaukee Yamahas to reach sixth spot, but a leading group of five still had to be dealt with.
Early leader Dan Linfoot fell back through the pack to promote Byrne to fifth while Jon Kirkham was dispatched on lap nine. Byrne’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki teammate Stuart Easton relinquished third soon afterwards and Shane would soon climb to second, diving past James Ellison at Paddock Hill bend.
Saturday’s winner Howie Mainwaring was the last rider standing in Byrne’s way and despite his best efforts, the Quattro Plant rider was outdragged on the run towards Hawthorn on lap ten. With the comeback complete, Byrne eased into the distance and was able to enjoy the closing laps, eventually taking the chequered flag to enter the BSB record books.
Ellison would get the better of Mainwaring for second while Josh Brookes came on strong in the latter stages to snatch fourth ahead of Easton. Tommy Bridewell took sixth to keep his hopes of third in the championship alive with Kirkham and Linfoot tumbling to seventh and eighth respectively.