Shane Byrne confirmed his place in the British Superbike Championship Showdown with back-to-back victories on the Brands Hatch GP circuit on Sunday. Title rivals Josh Brookes and Tommy Hill joined him on the podium in both races and are also assured of a showdown spot.
Byrne started the opener from pole but had to deal with the challenge of Michael Laverty on the opening lap. Once he'd overcome that threat, another emerged in the form of Noriyuki Haga who was chasing a maiden BSB win. The Swan Yamaha rider took a lunge up the inside of Byrne into Surtees on lap eleven but 'Shakey' held on before Haga was overhauled by Brookes a couple of laps later.
Byrne kept a feisty Brookes at bay in the closing stages but Haga threw away a certain podium finish with a crash at Graham Hill bend, promoting his teammate. Tommy Hill had lost ground earlier in the race with a clutch problem but worked his way back past Laverty for third with Tommy Bridewell and Chris Walker completing the top six.
The second race saw Brookes try absolutely everything to snatch the lead from the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki but Byrne stayed strong before racing clear in the final couple of laps. Tommy Hill claimed a second podium finish of the day but was puzzled later by his inability to challenge for victory. Michael Laverty finished in the top four once again while Noriyuki Haga got his showdown bid back on track with fifth ahead of Alex Lowes.
But the day unquestionably belonged to Byrne who extended his winning streak on the GP layout to four races and he was quick to praise his team for improving the competitiveness of the Kawasaki ZX-10R.
“A double victory is always good but to do it at my home circuit, in the sunshine and in front of a big local crowd is fantastic. We knew we had work to do after Oulton Park and the team have worked their butts off to address the problems we had so they deserve this as much as anyone. We have scored some good Podium Credits this weekend and it’s vital we continue that into Cadwell Park next month as there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”
Despite being beaten in both races, Josh Brookes had no regrets and was happy to have given Byrne such a run for his money.
“I'm not usually happy with second place but on this occasion I'm happy enough. I enjoyed both races and the bike worked perfectly; we just didn't quite have enough to match Shakey out there. We lost time in qualifying with the crash but we worked hard, made a few changes after race one and that gave me more confidence. You could see what I was doing trying inside, outside and every side to force Shakey into a mistake, as I knew if I just sat there he's never make one, but he doesn't crack. It was a good weekend. Thanks to all the boys in the team for the big effort.”
Byrne, Brookes and the overall leader Tommy Hill are guaranteed a place in the showdown while Michael Laverty is all-but secure in fourth. Tommy Bridewell's seventh place in race two gives him an eighteen point cushion with Noriyuki Haga clinging onto the final spot, seven points ahead of Ian Lowry.