Byrne Scores Valuable Points at Soaking Oulton Park

by Louis Suddaby

Despite losing out on a podium finish at the very last corner at Oulton Park, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was pleased to come through a tough weekend with an extended points lead. The HM Plant Honda rider led briefly but had no answer to the dominant Tommy Hill.

But with closest challenger John Hopkins crashing out, Byrne now leads by 32 points from the Crescent Suzuki man. Race two called off due to the torrential weather to the disappointment of Byrne, who was hoping to make amends for his loss of third place.

“I honestly can't believe I led some of the laps in the race as it wasn't easy. I battled for the podium and I have never had so many near crashes in one race in my career. We just need to improve our wet setting and it wasn't helped with the changing conditions over the weekend. We took a gamble on our setting for the race and it was faster than we were yesterday. The team did a great job to get a better feeling for me with the rear tyre and fourth place meant good points for our championship, especially as John Hopkins crashed. I was disappointed to get knocked off the podium in the race on the last lap but with the issues we were having it wasn't a bad result. I am just sorry for the fans and the HM Plant Honda team that we didn't get back on the podium today.”

By comparison, Ryuichi Kiyonari had a terrible time on a circuit which has been very kind to him in the past. Kiyonari, a nine-time Oulton Park winner, struggled in the wet conditions and has only one point to show for his efforts.

The reigning BSB champion remains well placed to qualify for the Championship showdown though, giving him some cause for cheer after a difficult weekend.

“Today was disappointing as we had a problem getting heat into the rear tyre and it meant I just couldn't push as hard as I wanted to. I am happy with the machine setting but in the wet it just didn't work out today; I think if it had been dry we would have been able to challenge for the win. Riders were able to pass me and there was nothing I could do about it but at least I was still able to stay in the top six in the standings which is so important.”

Team manager Havier Beltran admitted the weekend had become an exercise in damage limitation and was relieved to complete the weekend in a strong championship position.

“We leave Oulton Park with mixed feelings after the decision to abandon the second BSB race due to weather. It was good to salvage fourth for Shakey in those conditions with the problems we were having in the first race. It was disappointing we were not able to progress any further up the order and we still have work to do on our wet setting, but the positive is that Shakey still leads the championship. Kiyo had a difficult weekend but he still maintained his position inside the top six which is the priority.”

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