Champ kicks of bid for ti­tle num­ber five by grab­bing early se­ries lead at round one

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Stephen Dav­i­son MCN BSB WRITER

Michael Laverty and Peter Hick­man may have grabbed the head­lines at the open­ing round of the MCE British Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship at Sil­ver­stone by win­ning the two races but it was the fa­mil­iar fig­ure of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne who left the Northamp­ton­shire venue lead­ing the over­all stand­ings.

The PBM/BE Wiser star made a strong start in his bid to claim the 2016 ti­tle by tak­ing a brace of run­ner-up fin­ishes on the Du­cati Pani­gale.

And the 39-year-old showed just how fierce his hunger for that fifth crown is dur­ing a ti­tanic battle with Hick­man in the clos­ing stages of race two when he passed Hick­man at Brook­lands to take the lead for the first time dur­ing the day’s rac­ing.

“I tried to make my exit out of the sec­ond-gear cor­ner (Luffield) as clean as pos­si­ble and chucked it up into fifth and tried to keep it smooth,” Byrne ex­plained.

“Then he just came back un­der­neath me and I thought ‘No, no, no, that doesn’t hap­pen just af­ter I’ve got the lead’ and I kept it pinned and just got it com­pletely side­ways, too side­ways to be able to keep the throt­tle open.”

It brought the cur­tain down on a day that was as much a re­lief as it was a plea­sure for the Lon­doner. Were the re­sults more than he could have hoped for as he bat­tled through the win­ter try­ing to find a set up for the V-twin with­out any of its usual elec­tronic aids?

“I want to be the marker in BSB and you don’t get there by com­ing sec­ond,” he said. “I am happy with the job we have done but I am only re­ally happy when we are win­ning. That’s just me, I don’t cope that well fin­ish­ing sec­ond.”

Sun­day’s re­sults may high­light the ad­vances Byrne and his crew have made in adapt­ing the Pani­gale to the con­trolled ECU rules of BSB but there is still a lot of progress to be made.

“Where a Du­cati should be a) driv­ing re­ally, re­ally hard from the apex out of a cor­ner and b) be a re­ally, re­ally nice thing to ride mine is still a bit of an an­i­mal!” he ex­plained.

“But I point blank refuse to knock a load of power out of the thing be­cause that would be the easy so­lu­tion, to get it to the point where it doesn’t buck and weave, and go out and try and get re­sults a bit quicker. It would be just my luck to try that just as we are com­ing into the Show­down, and then you would be won­der­ing to your­self if you shouldn’t try to get some of that power back. You would be run­ning into the same prob­lems you started the sea­son with.” BSB rookie Glenn Ir­win made a promis­ing start to his shift from Su­pers­port ranks to the premier class at Sil­ver­stone. The envy of many af­ter join­ing the PBM Be Wiser Du­cati squad as Shakey Byrne’s team-mate, Ir­win is ben­e­fit­ting from four-time cham­pion Byrne’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I haven’t tor­tured him here be­cause the con­di­tions were so iffy but if it had been dry I would prob­a­bly have been ask­ing him what he was do­ing here or there,” the 26-year-old smiled.

“We made a change to the bike for the first race that didn’t re­ally work,” he ex­plained af­ter fin­ish­ing 14th ahead of rid­ers like Jakub Smrz and Billy Mccon­nell.

The North­ern Ire­land rider im­proved by one place af­ter a more event­ful sec­ond race.

“I made a bet­ter start and then Billy Mccon­nell tried a kamikaze move, crashed and knocked me off the track. Af­ter that I was on my own but I am happy with my pace.”

Byrne is frus­trated by a lack of un­der­stand­ing of just how big the chal­lenge he has taken on re­ally is.

“I guess in some ways it is a com­pli­ment,” he says. “Peo­ple see me at the front but I guar­an­tee you if I win a race it will be the ‘fac­tory Du­cati’ that won the race be­cause no­body seems to be able to ac­cept the fact that ac­tu­ally I can ride a mo­tor­bike quite well.” It is a frus­tra­tion he has faced be­fore. “I had it early on in my ca­reer when I won races on Du­catis. Every­one was like ‘He can only ride a twin,’ but I have won more races on a four cylin­der bike now and I have won an equal amount of ti­tles on both. Jump­ing back on to a twin cylin­der is a big ask, a big chal­lenge, but I am re­ally, re­ally mo­ti­vated for it.”

‘No­body seems to ac­cept the fact that ac­tu­ally I can ride a bike quite well’

Shakey’s ahead but Hick­man will be a ma­jor ri­val for the 2016 ti­tle Ir­win will be min­ing Shakey’s BSB ex­pe­ri­ence for tips dur­ing 2016

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