Shakey back af­ter Oul­ton drama

Reign­ing cham­pion bounces back from dis­as­trous start to the sea­son with his first vic­tory of 2017

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - OLI RUSHBY BSB REPORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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

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