Shane “Shakey” Byrne is well placed for a sixth consecutive Brands Hatch victory after taking pole position for tomorrow’s British Superbike season opener around the Indy circuit. The reigning champion was involved in a private battle with Alex Lowes through much of the qualifying session and snatched pole from the Samsung Honda rider by a tenth of a second in Q3.
The front row will be made of four different makes of motorcycle with BSB returnee James Ellison third for Milwaukee Yamaha and Jon Kirkham fourth on the Buildbase BMW as he looks to repeat his victory in last year’s opening race.
Along with Ryuichi Kiyonari, Byrne starts the year chasing a fourth British Superbike title but the Londoner was quick to stress that there will be many other contenders at the front, as proven by today’s result.
“The aim was to be on the front row of the grid. We still have some work to do but as the saying goes – so far, so good. Myself and Kiyo are obviously both aiming for that fourth title but there are plenty of other riders who won’t make it easy for us starting tomorrow here at Brands Hatch.”
Second placed Lowes is fully aware that Byrne has an unrivalled record around the Kent circuit but is looking forward to taking the fight to him tomorrow.
“There’s no doubt that Shakey is the man around here, but I enjoyed us all going for it again in qualifying. The lap I did was my best lap time around Brands Hatch; I was a bit nervous not to do too much too soon but I am really happy with the front row start.”
After a year racing in MotoGP’s CRT class, Ellison admits he is relishing being on a competitive bike again in BSB and is hopeful of racing the two ahead of him despite their dominance so far in the meeting.
“I am enjoying the Milwaukee Yamaha and I have gelled with the bike straight away. It is nice to be at an event where you know you can be fighting at the front every weekend. We have been working hard all winter and the team have done a great job but these other guys will make it difficult in the races. I am happy with qualifying third as normally I am not that good in qualifying if I am honest! If today is anything to go by then we should be good for the races tomorrow.”
Behind Kirkham, National Superstock 1000 champion Keith Farmer will start fifth with last year’s title runner-up Josh Brookes only sixth. The Australian is just ahead of the returning Kiyonari after a disappointing final session for the Japanese rider while PJ Jacobsen completes the second row on the second Tyco Suzuki.
James Westmoreland and Dan Linfoot round out the top ten but there were surprisingly early exits in Q2 for Karl Harris who had shown well in morning practice and Josh Waters as the two-time Australian Superbike Champion languished down in sixteenth.
|2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship – Round 1: Brands Hatch Indy|
|Datatag Extreme Qualifying Session – Result|
|1||Shane Byrne||Kawasaki||Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki||45.655|
|2||Alex Lowes||Honda||Samsung Honda||45.797|
|3||James Ellison||Yamaha||Milwaukee Yamaha||45.970|
|4||Jon Kirkham||BMW||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||46.065|
|5||Keith Farmer||Kawasaki||Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki||46.092|
|6||Josh Brookes||Suzuki||Tyco Suzuki||46.137|
|7||Ryuichi Kiyonari||Honda||Samsung Honda||46.191|
|8||PJ Jacobsen||Suzuki||Tyco Suzuki||46.333|
|9||James Westmoreland||BMW||Buildbase BMW Motorrad||46.704|
|10||Dan Linfoot||Honda||Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Honda||46.715|
|Eliminated In Q2|
|11||Chris Walker||Kawasaki||Quattro Plant Kawasaki||46.564|
|12||Karl Harris||Kawasaki||PR Racing Kawasaki||46.593|
|13||Tommy Bridewell||Honda||Bathams Honda||46.629|
|14||Jakub Smrz||Honda||Padgetts Honda||46.703|
|15||Matteo Baiocco||Ducati||Rapido Sport Racing||46.782|
|16||Josh Waters||Yamaha||Milwaukee Yamaha||46.792|
|17||Michael Rutter||Honda||Bathams Honda||46.874|
|18||Peter Hickman||Honda||Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Honda||46.924|
|Eliminated In Q1|
|19||Martin Jessopp||BMW||Riders Motorcycles||46.933|
|20||Robbin Harms||Honda||Doodson Motorsport Honda||46.934|
|21||Howie Mainwaring||Kawasaki||MH Kawasaki||47.210|
|22||Luke Quigley||Kawasaki||MH Kawasaki||47.429|
|23||Danny Buchan||Kawasaki||Quattro Plant Kawasaki||47.633|
|24||Aaron Zanotti||Suzuki||Aaron Zanotti Racing||47.751|
|25||Jenny Tinmouth||Honda||Two Wheel Racing||47.873|
|26||Lee Costello||Kawasaki||Halsall Racing Kawasaki||48.139|