Alex Lowes held off Shane Byrne in a race long battle for second place behind Josh Brookes to clinch the 2013 British Superbike Championship crown. Both title contenders rode superbly to come through from tough grid positions but no-one could match Brookes in the final race of the year as the Australian completed a hat-trick of wins on the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
After their crashes in race two, Lowes and Byrne were separated by three points with the Samsung Honda starting ninth, thirteen places ahead of his rival, but both made rapid progress through the field despite the soaking wet track surface. Within two laps, Lowes was up to fifth and quickly picked off the GBmoto Honda of Dan Linfoot for fourth at Druids while Byrne had his hands full with Josh Waters in a squabble over seventh spot.
The fourth lap saw Lowes storm past Chris Walker at Paddock Hill bend but a matter of metres behind, Byrne had finally taken care of Waters. A mistake from James Ellison at Surtees promoted the defending champion straight into sixth and when Linfoot and Walker were dispatched within the next lap, the two championship rivals were line astern.
With Brookes long gone, second-placed Jon Kirkham was the last rider to be overhauled by the championship rivals on lap six and the stage was now set for a classic head-to-head. Byrne didn’t waste any time in making his presence felt, diving up the inside of Lowes at Surtees on lap seven and the Kawasaki seemed to be the stronger on the slippery circuit.
In the second half of the race, Lowes upped the pace and began to set fastest laps at will, pulling Byrne right back into view and with five laps to go, the 23 year old charged up the inside of Graham Hill bend to regain second in the race, and the in-play championship lead. Byrne refused to admit defeat and desperately searched for a way back through but a crucial mistake at Druids on the last lap gave Alex the cushion he needed to take second and his first British Superbike title.
Brookes’ achievement in winning all three races during the weekend cannot be underestimated but the day belonged to Lowes with the classy Byrne gracious in defeat. The Milwaukee Yamahas of Tommy Bridewell and James Ellison finished fourth and fifth with Bridewell shadowing the new and old champions over the closing laps.
Jon Kirkham brought his Buildbase BMW home in sixth to clinch the BSB Riders’ Cup with teammate James Westmoreland next up in seventh while Josh Waters rounded out his maiden BSB campaign with eighth ahead of Walker and Linfoot.
|2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship – Final Standings|
|C||Alex Lowes||643||2||Shane Byrne||636||3||Josh Brookes||621|
|4||James Ellison||589||5||J. Westmoreland||564||6||Ryuichi Kiyonari||522|
|(Photo Credit: Jon Jessop, Honda, Tyco Suzuki, Motorsport Vision, Buildbase BMW)|