Shane Byrne survived a late qualifying crash to take his second pole position in succession at Knockhill on Saturday. The defending champion led a PBM Kawasaki 1-2 with home favourite Stuart Easton following close behind his teammate while Josh Brookes rounds out the front row on his Milwaukee Yamaha.
At one stage, it looked unlikely that there would be any running whatsoever after torrential storms caused damage to the Knockhill track surface overnight. After rapid repairs, final practice eventually got underway at 1:40pm and qualifying kicked off shortly after 4pm.
After clocking a 48.153, Byrne enjoyed a two-tenth lead over Brookes but a tumble at Clark’s threatened to undo all his hard work with three minutes remaining. In the end, the points leader was fortunate he had such an advantage with Easton’s late improvement falling 0.052s short, leaving him in second.
Although the crash threw everything in doubt, Shane admitted he was happy with his lap time and knew he wouldn’t be too far from the front row.
“I’m a little bit surprised with the outcome of qualifying. We all know what we think is an achievable lap time, and I planned for the time I thought I could do in that last session. I pushed hard, but it seemed like I was sliding on every single corner exit on the last run. I did a time that was good enough for pole, and a couple more close to it – but I think the rear tyre maybe wasn’t as good. I thought ‘oh ok, I’ll run in a little hotter and be a bit more careful on the exit with the throttle,’ but trying that on my second lap I went into Clarkes like normal, released the brakes a little earlier to try and carry a bit more speed, and tucked the front tyre.”
“It’s frustrating for that to happen, but at the end of the day I’m happy with the result. It’s a PBM one-two, the times have been close; but I just thought we had maybe another two tenths or so there. I think for tomorrow we’ve worked really hard on race pace. Yesterday afternoon, my best lap time – that would have got us fairly high up today’s grid – came from the thirty third lap on the tyre. From that view, we should be cool – and with the times as close as they are, it should make for some pretty exciting racing!”
Brookes also closed to within a tenth of Byrne in third while Jason O’Halloran was a tenth further back in fourth, leaving him well placed to boost his showdown prospects. Ryuichi Kiyonari is among the riders needing a big weekend and responded with fifth, placing him on the second row, while former championship leader James Ellison lines up sixth, broken ribs and all.
Michael Laverty starts seventh ahead of Danny Buchan and Dan Linfoot, although Tyco BMW’s leading showdown contender Tommy Bridewell has work to do from twelfth.
2015 MCE INSURANCE BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 5 – KNOCKHILL: QUALIFYING
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