‘Leon is just too tena­cious. He’s a tough com­peti­tor be­cause un­less you have at least a twosec­ond gap on him you can’t do your own thing’

Shane Byrne after boss­ing the open­ing Show­down week­end

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in Mcn - AT DON­ING­TON PARK BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com OLI RUSHBY

Shane Byrne took first blood with a dou­ble vic­tory as the 2016 MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike ti­tle fight got un­der­way at Don­ing­ton Park this week­end.

The four-time Bri­tish Cham­pion bounced back from a tough Oul­ton Park seven days ear­lier, which saw him con­cede the se­ries lead to Leon Haslam. But two wins at Don­ing­ton, com­bined with Haslam crash­ing out of race two (see page 76), means the Be Wiser Du­cati man now has a 27-point lead with just two rounds and five races re­main­ing.

Able to make the soft Pirelli rear tyre last while Haslam couldn’t, Byrne cruised to a dom­i­nant first race vic­tory be­fore what looked set to be a ti­tanic race two bat­tle be­tween the du­elling duo was cut short by Haslam’s un­timely crash.

“The weather def­i­nitely played into our hands as it warmed up a bit whereas it was cold on Fri­day and Satur­day,” Byrne told MCN after he’d got off the phone to Du­cati Corse Di­rec­tor Ernesto Marinelli who was in Ger­many for WSB. “For the sun to come out was the per­fect sce­nario for me as it just makes the softer tyre work that lit­tle bit bet­ter and I seem to have the ad­van­tage when it comes to mak­ing tyres last.

“That be­ing said, it was never go­ing to be easy as Leon is just too tena­cious. He never, ever gives up. He’s a re­ally tough com­peti­tor be­cause un­less you have at least a two-sec­ond gap on him you can’t do your own thing. Even if you have a one-sec­ond lead you can guar­an­tee he’ll be tak­ing a lunge up the in­side some­where! You can never let your guard down and re­lax un­til you get that lit­tle bit more and when I have that I can set­tle in to my rhythm and ride how I want.”

For Byrne to take the dou­ble and a large championship lead at a track known as Haslam’s stomp­ing ground, be­ing just 15 min­utes from his Smal­ley home, is even more sig­nif­i­cant. On top of this, as a World Su­per­bike venue, Haslam has no lack of cir­cuit knowl­edge to po­ten­tially hold him back.

“I was more than aware Leon was go­ing to be strong this week­end as he’s al­ways been good here,” said Byrne. “But at the same time I can’t look at him and think ‘oh no, he’ll go well here so that’s me out of it!’

“If ei­ther of us wants to win this ti­tle we have to beat each other and he and I have been par­tic­u­larly strong this week­end and I was re­ally happy we were able to be there and match him.”

While Byrne now leads the se­ries by more than a race win’s worth of points, the BSB stal­wart knows he can­not rest on his lau­rels ahead of the five re­main­ing races at As­sen and Brands Hatch.

“You can take noth­ing for granted in BSB. I’ve been to As­sen with a 27-point lead be­fore and left with a two-point gap! I had a bad week­end at Oul­ton and a good week­end here, while with Leon it was the other way around. We both need to go to As­sen with ex­actly the same mind­set with the tar­get be­ing to beat each other, so there’s no way I can back off at all just be­cause I have a bit of a buf­fer. The Show­down doesn’t work like that.

“The big­gest ad­van­tage Leon has on us is that he’s re­ally good on the brakes but at As­sen and Brands there aren’t as many big brak­ing zones, they’re much more flow­ing and that’s what suits the Du­cati.”

As the season draws to a close, talk has al­ready be­gun with re­gards to who will do what next year and Byrne hopes to have a deal done and dusted to stay where he is in the next cou­ple of weeks.

“My boss con­grat­u­lated me after the first race and told me he doesn’t think he’s ever seen me ride as well as I did in that one! He’s cer­tainly happy so I’m fairly sure it won’t be too much longer be­fore we can both con­firm we’ll be stay­ing to­gether for 2017.”

in BSB his­tory fi­nally go when Leon Haslam bet­tered his ten-year-old time at Cad­well, and we’ve seen the fastest-ever laps at each of the last four cir­cuits we’ve vis­ited.

Ini­tially it was just the qual­i­fy­ing pace, but over the last three rounds the ante has been upped as rid­ers scram­bled to get in to the Show­down. Race pace is now so quick that even the tini­est of mis­takes are be­ing pun­ished more than ever. Look at Shane Byrne at Oul­ton Park ten days ago – he was quick enough to win all three races but through bad starts and poor grid po­si­tions, he just wasn’t able to make his way through the dog­fight­ing pack ahead.

The same hap­pened to Dan Lin­foot and Chris­tian Id­don this week­end – both had pace to be on the podium as shown in race two, but after mis­takes in the first race they were sim­ply un­able to re­cover as, while they could match the in­cred­i­ble pace ahead, they just couldn’t bet­ter it.

‘Haslam’s pole would have put him eighth on the WSB grid’

week­end for Shakey Byrne Two lots of cham­pagne in what could be a piv­otal

Cad­well saw Leon blitz the lap record

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