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Double Podium Extends Byrne’s Championship Lead

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Shane 'Shakey' Byrne recovered from a crash in qualifying to take back-to-back podium finishes, and extend his points lead over nearest rival John Hopkins.

The HM Plant Honda rider slid off in the damp Q3 session and was forced to start the first race from ninth position, but rode brilliantly to overcome Gary Mason for third before chasing Hopkins all the way home for second. Ahead of them, Tommy Hill took a comfortable victory.

Byrne fought hard for the win in race two but Hill proved too strong again, while 'Shakey' was forced to fend off the second Swan Yamaha of Michael Laverty to take second. But with Hopkins crashing early in the race, Byrne settled for 20 valuable championship points.

The Londoner now leads the standings by 31 points and admitted this was a crucial weekend in his championship bid.

“It is great to be back on the podium again for HM Plant Honda in both races and I have to say at one point that I thought maybe I could get passed John Hopkins in the first race for second, so I just kept pushing. In race two Tommy just had that bit more than me. I was pushing as I knew that otherwise he would get away at the front and then there were the safety car moments and I realised that John (Hopkins) was out. I wanted the win but the points and podium credits are so vital to the championship and you can’t lose sight of that. As well as trying to pass Tommy, I was trying to keep Michael (Laverty) behind me and he kept me honest in that race.”

“We now need to get to another track where we can get them back! I have to thank the HM Plant Honda team for the hard work at the weekend as the conditions were changing all the time and wet or dry we were up there with the Fireblade where we needed to be.”

HM Plant Honda teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari had an improved weekend but his podium drought continued, having not stood on the rostrum since his solitary win at Oulton Park at the beginning of May.

The reigning champion finished a quiet tenth in race one but was in much better form in race two, claiming fourth to move back into the top six of the championship. 'Kiyo' felt he was close to his best again and is targeting a return to the podium in two weeks at Snetterton.

“It was a better weekend for us and we are getting closer to being perfect again now. In race one it was the first time we had run a slick tyre and I struggled a little with the grip but then we made some changes in race two and it was much better; I felt confident that I could push again and the machine balance was how I like it. I was confident that I could pass the other riders and I feel that we have solved the problems that we have had at the other rounds recently. I am looking forward to Snetterton now and trying again for a podium.”

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