Alex Lowes will head into the British Superbike Championship showdown on a four-race winning streak after denying Shane Byrne on the last lap of race two at Donington Park. With Lowes, Byrne, Josh Brookes and James Ellison already confirmed in the showdown, Ryuichi Kiyonari and James Westmoreland ensured they will join them in the title battle after achieving the necessary results in race two.
Just as in race one, Westmoreland was swamped off the line as Lowes blasted into a lead he would hold for almost the entire race but the drama still centred on the Buildbase BMWs with so much at stake. With Westmoreland part of a six-man breakaway involving Lowes, Byrne, Brookes, Ellison and Tommy Bridewell, Jon Kirkham was stranded in seventh leaving his teammate with the task of finishing fourth to snatch the last showdown spot.
The Beverley rider showed great opportunism to put himself in position as Ellison passed Brookes for third at the Foggy Esses, repeating his move from race one. With the Australian wrong-footed, Westmoreland seized his opportunity and dived up the inside of the Suzuki at the Melbourne hairpin. Brookes’ race would continue to unravel moments later when Bridewell, racing with nothing to lose after his race one retirement ended his title hopes, demoted him to sixth at Redgate.
Up ahead, Ellison had his eyes on victory, plus the podium credits to go with it, and edged ahead of Byrne at the Esses on lap eight. Looking to catch his opponent unawares again, Westmoreland looked around the outside of Byrne into Melbourne but as the two watched each other, Bridewell sneaked up the inside of both to snatch third. With Westmoreland now back to fifth, it was advantage Kirkham with twelve laps to go.
In the end, a mistake from a rider ahead would tilt the balance conclusively in Westmoreland’s favour as Ellison attempted to make it third time lucky at the Foggy Esses, this time on Lowes. The latest move didn’t quite come off though and the Yamaha was forced to take a detour through the gravel. Ellison was now out of contention in sixth, promoting Westmoreland to fourth but crucially staying ahead of Kirkham.
He may have shaken off Ellison but Lowes would yet come under fire from Byrne on the last lap. The championship leader had repassed Bridewell shortly after Ellison’s off and approaching the Esses for the final time, ‘Shakey’ slipstreamed past the leading Honda. However with a section of the straight still to go, Lowes was able to position himself perfectly for the left hander and dive back up the inside, securing victory in the process.
Although his brave chase of the top six fell short, Bridewell had impressed again in third while Westmoreland had done just enough in fourth with Brookes and Ellison splitting him from teammate Kirkham. The two had been so evenly matched all year that the two had to be separated on countback of sixth place finishes, having ended up level on 154 points.
Chris Walker was eighth in the end for Quattro Plant Kawasaki with PJ Jacobsen and Jakub Smrz completing the top ten while Ryuichi Kiyonari also confirmed his status as a title challenger, albeit in underwhelming fashion after limping home in eleventh.
|2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship – The Showdown|
|1||Shane Byrne||539||2||Alex Lowes||533||3||Josh Brookes||522|
|4||James Ellison||513||5||Ryuichi Kiyonari||504||6||J. Westmoreland||500|
(Photo Credit: Jon Jessop, Honda, Tyco Suzuki, Motorsport Vision, Buildbase BMW)