Shane Byrne has ended his six race victory drought with victory in the opening race of the weekend at Oulton Park. The defending champion took advantage of Josh Brookes’ qualifying disaster to lead from start to finish ahead of a heroic James Ellison who marked his return from injury with second place, enough to confirm his place in the championship showdown.
Byrne’s only serious threat for victory in the first half of the race was taken out of contention in unfortunate fashion on lap seven when Tommy Bridewell’s BMW broke down with mechanical problems. The Tyco rider was on target to all-but secure a top six place but his failure to score leaves him in for a nervous couple of races on Sunday.
Once his nearest challenger had been eliminated, Byrne controlled the race and although Ellison closed the gap to less than a second in the latter stages, the PBM rider held on for his 67th career victory in BSB. Although he has remained a consistent frontrunner in recent rounds, Byrne admitted it was a relief to return to the top step of the podium.
“I want to be five times champion but I am not going to do that finishing in sixth or fourth or whatever but since Brands Hatch we have had a really bad run, so I know how easily things can turn around! No stone was left unturned and now it is my bike again. That race there was kind of tricky, I wanted to go out and try and get away but at the same time I didn’t want to go out and get away and then suffer at the end of the race. We have 18 laps of data now so the team can have a look at that and we are on pole for tomorrow’s first race. The 67th win is finally off my back, so a massive thanks to Paul Bird and everyone who stands by me.”
Ellison took second with Danny Buchan a magnificent third for Be Wiser Kawasaki while Josh Brookes rode a sensational race to finish fourth from 30th on the grid. Dan Linfoot took arguably the most important result of the day in fifth, bringing him into play with the top six contenders heading into tomorrow’s races. The Honda rider won a close fight with Luke Mossey, Richard Cooper and Lee Jackson with Michael Laverty, the man currently in possession of the all-important sixth place, down in ninth spot.
Of the other potential title fighters, Stuart Easton opted to sit out today’s race after his crash in qualifying but will surely have to take part tomorrow to be certain of a showdown place.
RACE FOR THE SHOWDOWN (TWO RACES OF MAIN SEASON REMAINING)
|1||25. Josh Brookes||Yamaha||Milwaukee Yamaha||329||Q|
|2||67. Shane Byrne||Kawasaki||PBM Kawasaki||302||Q|
|3||77. James Ellison||Kawasaki||JG Speedfit Kawasaki||167||Q|
|4||46. Tommy Bridewell||BMW||Tyco BMW Motorrad||141|
|5||5. Stuart Easton||Kawasaki||PBM Kawasaki||139|
|6||7. Michael Laverty||BMW||Tyco BMW Motorrad||133|
|7||4. Dan Linfoot||Honda||Honda Racing||116||-17|
|8||22. Jason O’Halloran||Honda||Honda Racing||103||-30|
|9||47. Richard Cooper||BMW||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||102||-31|
|10||12. Luke Mossey||Kawasaki||Quattro Plant Tec-care Kawasaki||100||-33|
|11||60. Peter Hickman||BMW||RAF Reserves BMW||93||-40|
|12||3. Billy McConnell||BMW||Smiths Racing BMW||88||-45|