Byrne hun­gry for ti­tle num­ber five as show­down heads to Assen

Motorcycle News (UK) - - MCN Sport - PRE­VIEW BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­ OLI RUSHBY

Shane Byrne heads into the is penul­ti­mate round of the 2016 MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship at Assen this week­end with a 27-point ad­van­tage over Leon Haslam, but the four-time Bri­tish champ knows he can’t rest on his lau­rels.

The very na­ture of BSB’S Show­down is to pile on the pres­sure over the last three rounds – with each of the top six rid­ers in with a shout of tak­ing the crown. Over the years the Show­down has thrown up count­less sur­prises, and 2016 is no ex­cep­tion as Haslam found out last time out at Don­ing­ton when an un­forced er­ror saw him crash out of the fight for the lead in the sec­ond race.

Hav­ing fought for the BSB ti­tle each year since re­join­ing the se­ries from WSB in 2011, Byrne knows all too well he can’t get car­ried away, de­spite hav­ing more than a race win’s worth of points in hand over Haslam with five races re­main­ing.

“You can’t take any­thing for granted in BSB,” he told MCN just be­fore head­ing out cy­cling with wife Pe­tra. “I’ve been to Assen with a 27-point lead be­fore, crashed in the race while my ri­val won, and seen the lead shrink to two points.

“I had a bad week­end at Oul­ton and a good week­end at Don­ing­ton, while it was the re­verse for Leon. We both need to go to Assen with the same mind­set, look­ing to beat each other and hope­fully there will be some re­ally hard-but-fair races. There’s no way what­so­ever we can back off just be­cause we have a bit of a buf­fer. BSB doesn’t work like that, we’ve seen too many twists and turns time and time again.

“Assen has been mixed for me in the past. There was the year I lost all the points and then also the year Alex Lowes knocked me off! How­ever, it’s been good too. In 2012 we went there three weeks af­ter break­ing my col­lar­bone, but I was de­ter­mined to get back in the ti­tle fight and won the first race!

“The good thing is the fast, flow­ing na­ture of the track should suit the Du­cati re­ally well. The other thing is that Leon’s ad­van­tages on us are in the heavy brak­ing zones. Not only is he re­ally late on the brakes, he’s not afraid to make a lunge! He’ll come from quite a way back and push you both a lit­tle bit wide but in a way that he man­ages to keep the in­side.

“For­tu­nately there are only a few places like that at Assen, but it wouldn’t be ideal to have Leon close be­hind you into the hair­pin on the last lap. That be­ing said, I did over­take him at the Esses and into the loop at Don­ing­ton, which are two of the hard­est brak­ing points on the track.”

Byrne might be fight­ing for a record fifth BSB ti­tle, but he’s adamant he’s still as hun­gry as he was when he fought for his first crown 13 years ago.

“I know how good it feels to win a Bri­tish Su­per­bike ti­tle. I know how good it feels to take two, three and I also know how good it feels to take four. I guess you could ar­gue that the nov­elty might wear off a bit af­ter win­ning so many and sug­gest that some­one, like Leon, who hasn’t won a ti­tle, might be a big hun­grier than me… but that’s rub­bish! I can as­sure you win­ning these ti­tles is like a drug that will not wear off. I want to win this fifth ti­tle more than I wanted to win the fourth.”

‘There was the year I lost all the points and the year Alex Lowes knocked me off’ SHANE BYRNE

Byrne is the man of the mo­ment but any­thing can hap­pen in the Show­down

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