Shane 'Shakey' Byrne wasn't panicking despite qualifying only sixth for tomorrow's opening BSB race at Snetterton, the first on the new 300 layout. The championship leader was quickest of all in the second knockout session but went a full second slower in Q3, with title rival John Hopkins taking pole position.
The HM Plant Honda man blamed a rear-tyre issue for his lack of pace in the final session but expects to have the pace to challenge the leaders tomorrow.
“I am happy with the work the HM Plant Honda team have done here this weekend as it hasn't come as easy as I anticipated. The HM Plant Honda Fireblade feels better than it did when we tested here pre-season but it has taken until today to come good and really push. Myself and crew chief Chris Pike have definitely made steps forward this weekend with the set-up and in Q2 I did the fastest lap, the first 1m:47s from anyone so far and it felt perfect. I was excited for Q3 and through no fault of mine or the team we had an issue which cost us dearly. That said, sixth isn't a disaster and we just need to get a good start and take it from there.”
Teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari was relieved to make into the top ten after missing out in two of the last three events, but couldn't get much further and will start from eighth. Like Byrne, the Japanese rider is encouraged by his speed in race trim and is looking forward to tomorrow.
“Today I was hoping for better in Q3, but I know that each session we made improvements and although it was slow I was happy we were making progress. In Q3 I couldn't get a fast lap on a different tyre and it just didn't work for me and I just moved down the order. I had a few problems with some slower riders too, but I am happier with the race pace we have and we still have some changes to make in warm up. I need to push hard tomorrow because we have made big improvements, we just need to do the same for the races.”
Team manager Havier Beltran admitted the day hadn't gone to plan for the squad which won all three races here last year. Beltran is eyeing up another victory challenge tomorrow from the second row.
“Qualifying didn't quite work out for HM Plant Honda this afternoon for Shakey or Kiyo which was unfortunate. Kiyo still isn't one hundred percent happy with his chassis set up and Shakey had an issue with a rear tyre which was a problem he was unable to ride around and it ended his session. We were gutted for Shakey as he had been fastest in the second qualifying session and we were confident he could have challenged for the pole position. We know he has the pace for a podium tomorrow and Kiyo is improving all the time so we are looking forward to the first races on the Snetterton 300.”