Shane Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari claimed a victory apiece at Silverstone on Sunday to leave the championship battle finely poised heading into the season finale at Brands Hatch in two weeks. The pair fought out two thrilling head-to-head races with both decided on the last lap, Byrne taking race one before Kiyonari turned the tables in race two to leave them twelve points apart.
In the opener, Josh Brookes kept pace with the three-time champions but ultimately lacked the pace to mount a victory challenge. Instead it was left to Byrne to take maximum points after wrong-footing Kiyonari through the loop and outbraking him into Brooklands.
The second race saw Brookes slide out at Brooklands in his attempts to stay in touch but the championship leaders didn’t let their standards slip. After fourteen laps of high quality racing, the intense duel was settled in Ryuichi’s favour after fending Byrne off in the final complex.
Despite being pipped in race two, Byrne was pleased with his day’s work and congratulated his rival after two thrilling tussles.
“The first race was so much fun but it was hard work battling with Kiyo and Josh and exactly what we needed after Assen. Kiyo’s been incredibly strong this weekend and with Josh in the mix too, there was a lot of overtaking going on. I had a slight moment on the final lap, and then Kiyo had one too, but I braked slightly later at the end of the straight and held on for the win. The second race was equally good fun and to get first and second in races like that is no bad thing. We were both on the limit and I had a plan but the race was quicker than the first one and the margins of reserve not as great so when I had a little slide on the last lap, I just couldn’t quite make the move I wanted. Fair play to Kiyo, he held on for the win and we now go to the final round at Brands Hatch where I’m sure there’ll be more of the same.”
Kiyonari admitted the victory was hugely significant in order to give him a fighting chance at Brands Hatch, especially following his earlier defeat.
“At the end of the race Shakey tried to pass me but I pushed very hard – every lap I was pushing hard and concentrating very hard, so I am pleased to take this win. I was disappointed to not win the first race, so this makes me happier.”
James Ellison claimed his first podium since returning from injury with third in race two but his teammate Chris Walker fell out of mathematical title contention with two twelfth place finishes. Tommy Bridewell and Dan Linfoot also dropped out of the title race but a fourth place for each saw them close to within six points of third placed Josh Brookes overall.