Shakey back after Oulton drama
Reigning champion bounces back from disastrous start to the season with his first victory of 2017
Shane Byrne kick-started his 2017 MCE British Superbike season at Oulton Park this weekend as he returned to the top step of the podium in Monday’s second race.
Until that point, it had been a horrendous start to the season for the reigning champion after a lack of testing left him on the back foot at the opening round, where he went on to crash heavily in warm-up and miss both races with concussion.
Back in action at Brands Hatch two weeks later, he narrowly missed the podium in the opening race, but disaster struck in race two as he dramatically crashed out while fighting for the lead.
However, Oulton proved to be a tricky track for the Be Wiser Ducati team last year with Byrne failing to finish on the podium at either the May or September rounds.
But, knowing he had to get his championship defence back on track, the 40-year-old rose to the challenge to take pole position, second in race one before topping it off with his first win of the year with a strong ride in the final race of the day.
“That one felt good!” Byrne explained to MCN after the race. “It’s been a bad start to the year and these days I think I work harder than ever before to achieve these things. While the speed was there at both Donington and Brands, luck wasn’t... so it’s good to be back on the top step here.
“If I’m honest, I’m pleasantly surprised with how today went. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t come here think- ing ‘Oulton Park should be a good circuit for us!’. The test last week wasn’t particularly great but the boys have done a top job to turn the bike around and once again it was even better in race two.”
Byrne demonstrated just why he’s a five-time champion in the open- ing race, as he latched to the tail of Haslam’s JG Speedfit Kawasaki for three quarters of the encounter. But he noticeably backed off towards the end to make sure he bagged his first rostrum of the year.
“Right now the aim for us is to score podium credits and if we’re doing that then the championship position will look after itself. It’s important for us to get in the showdown right now, then we can start taking risks and pushing on a bit. In race one, I had to settle for second as there are things we need to achieve before we can think about putting our neck on the line to win a race.”
Heading into the six-week break on the back of his first win of the year leaves Byrne in a good position, especially as he knows he’s got at least two tests in that period to push forward with the Panigale’s development.
“The bike is good, but fundamentally it’s not a lot different to last year. We’ve reverted back to the standard swingarm this weekend as we didn’t get the chance to back-to-back test it with the new factory one, so there’s improvements to come in that area. As well as that, we raced an old engine today, so when we stick a new one in we’ll have a little bit more there too.”
‘ The boys have done a top job to turn the bike around’ SHAKEY BYRNE
Byrne brought his bike home in both races, Ellison didn’t Shakey can still smoke them when it matters