Shane Byrne enjoyed a perfect weekend in Norfolk as he stormed to the top step of the British Superbike podium at Snetterton twice.
His dominant race day performance was a continuation of his impressive form in qualifying, which saw the Sittingbourne rider take his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R to pole position with a lap half a second inside the previous lap record.
Taking advantage of the pole position, Byrne got the holeshot in the first of two 16 lap races, managing to put a slight gap on the field after an early safety car bunched the field up. Byrne controlled the pace from the top of the field, pulling a couple of tenths of a second away from Milwaukee Yamaha‘s Josh Brookes with every lap, crossing the finish line four seconds clear of the Australian.
Having set the fastest lap in race one, Byrne once again started from pole position, although the second time of asking was not as plain sailing as the first race. Brookes stayed with Byrne this time, taking the lead at around the halfway stage. Byrne struck back, and although Brookes was hanging close, the battle would end on the 13th lap as the Yamaha rider dropped the bike at Montreal, allowing Byrne to cruise to his fifth win in six races.
The weekend sees ‘Shakey’ move on to a record 56 British Superbike Championship wins, including 12 doubles, and means that he leads the championship by a mammoth 45 points. He also holds a 14 point lead in the Podium Credits scores, a vital table when the end of season Showdown comes in to effect.
“I’m really, really happy with how this weekend’s gone and the win in the first race was just what we needed,” said Byrne. “I tried really hard at the beginning with my plan to open up a bit of a gap and then conserve the tyre and control the race. That part worked but I backed off a bit too much and the boys caught up so I had to push again. I kept my eye on the big TV screen to see what the gap was and when Josh closed in towards the end; I had one last dig and brought the bike home.
“For race two, my crew chief felt that if I could lap consistently I’d be in a good position so I tried hard from the word go and towards the end of the race I managed to build up a bit of a buffer. The last couple of laps were a bit sketchy so I was pleased to see the chequered flag and take the win. It’s very early days in the season though and there’s a long way to go so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”
The same fortunes did not fall on Byrne’s team-mate, Stuart Easton, who only managed to take 13th in race two after retiring from the opening race with a broken water hose clip. However his three points for thirteenth could prove important come the end of the season and keep him in the hunt for a top 6 Showdown position. He currently sits in 7th place, just two points behind Chris Walker.
“Two pole positions and two race wins for Shakey means we can’t ask for much more than that and to win five of the opening six races is a dream,” said team manager Paul Bird. “He promised me he’d do it and he kept his word but it’s still very early days yet in the championship. Stuart had some bad luck in the opening race with a part that shouldn’t have broken and he was always on the back foot for race two but I’m pleased he scored a few points.”