Shane 'Shakey' Byrne has warned his rivals that he is still in with a chance of winning the British Superbike Championship despite trailing John Hopkins by 44 points after the penultimate meeting at Silverstone.
The championship hopeful could only finish fifth in both races but after qualifying 13th, Byrne admits he would have settled for that when he woke up on Sunday morning.
“We certainly didn’t come to Silverstone to score two fifth places but if someone would have offered me that on Friday or even Saturday afternoon I would have snapped their arm off for it. It was a learning experience for me in the first race after we made some radical changes; it was just annoying that we found the pace at that point in the weekend despite the boys working so hard in the garage to turn things around. I was trying to get everything perfect in race two after leading for a few laps and then John (Hopkins) came past me in the slipstream down the straight and that was it. Maybe I could have had an answer for third or fourth on the last lap, but from 13th we turned it around well in the races. We are on the back foot coming into the final round at Brands Hatch but the championship is still far from over.”
While Byrne remains in contention, Ryuichi Kiyonari's title hopes disappeared after a terrible weekend. The defending champion qualified down in 16th before a ride-through penalty left him down in 28th in race one and trailed home a disappointing 13th in race two.
Although he can no longer retain his title, Kiyonari is determined to end the season on a high with a strong performance at Brands Hatch.
“It was another difficult weekend and then to have a mechanical problem on the grid for the first race was disappointing. I didn't realise that I needed to start from the back of the grid so I took my grid position and then saw that I had a ride through penalty. We had made changes that had some good and bad points, like we have had in previous rounds. I couldn't go fast enough again and I am not happy with the results. I don't want to end the season like this so for Brands Hatch I want to be back fighting with the other Title Fighters.”
HM Plant Honda Team Manager Havier Beltran is mindful that the team need to find more pace if they are to challenge Swan Yamaha and Crescent Suzuki but agrees with Byrne that the title is still up for grabs.
“It was a massive turn around for Shakey with the big changes that were made ahead of the races. It was just a shame that we hadn't been able to achieve that earlier in the weekend. To go from 13th to fifth was a big step forward and with three races there is still all to play for; we just need to figure out how to beat our competitors. We struggled with Kiyo's machine set up, again he wasn't comfortable and it was another disappointing weekend – of course we need to try and resolve this for Brands Hatch.”