BRANDS BSB SHAKEY RUNS AWAY WITH IT
After a Shakey start to season BSB’S superstar starts to pile on the pressure
Shane Byrne asserted his position at the top of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship standings with a sublime double victory at Brands Hatch.
But it didn’t come easy for the Be Wiser Ducati rider – after qualifying sixth in a wet qualifying session, a bad start and subsequent mistake saw him drop back as far as ninth in the opening race.
However, the five-times champion showed exactly why he remains at the top of a series he has dominated as he carved through the pack in the most exciting race of the year to take his 81st BSB victory. He then went on to add another victory to his tally in a much more dominant fashion as former nemesis Josh Brookes crashed out of the race (see page 72).
Byrne’s back-to-back double wins at Snetterton and now Brands concrete his position at the top of the standings after a nightmare start to the year saw him fail to score in three of the opening four races. But he’s keen not to get ahead of himself despite his rivals’ misfortune.
“Leading the championship at this point of the year means absolutely naff all,” he told MCN after the second race. “I couldn’t care less about it. What I do care about is podium points and we’ve maxed out on those these last two weekends while Leon, our main rival, has only scored one.
“That being said, I’m only too aware that three rounds ago I wasn’t even in a Showdown position so we can’t count our chickens just yet. We need to maintain this focus, maintain the pressure and everything we’re doing to have strong weekends at Thruxton, Cadwell and Silverstone before launching a full attack on a back-to-back title in the Showdown rounds.”
Byrne’s rivals have every reason to be concerned, with the 40-year-old saying he’s found even further improvements with the Panigale R after finally getting his head around the new swingarm the team have been trying since Oulton Park.
“For the first time ever, we’ve gone from a test at one circuit (Cadwell Park) to an event at another circuit and not had to change a thing,” Byrne explained. “We just wheeled the bike out and it worked, so it was just a case of refining little bits. Because we were in the zone from the word go, it meant we could concentrate on the things that made life easier.
“We’ve been working really hard with the new swingarm. It’s been in for a while now and we’re refining the way the bike works the tyre and making sure we’ve got tyres left at the end of the races. Our package was very strong at Thruxton last year and considering we’ve made another small step with the swingarm, I’m really excited to get there.”
However, it’s not all rosy for the boys in red as Byrne was able to identify a number of weaknesses while fighting through the pack in the opening race, especially when he found himself behind the Kawasaki of Haslam.
“We got a bit of a shock in the first race as the way I have to ride the bike is very different to how the four-cylinder guys ride theirs. I need a nice clear bit of track to come into my own. While chasing Leon in race one he was always so late on the brakes and got fired out well, whereas I run really fast into the corner and then when behind him I had to almost stop and the Ducati doesn’t pick up quite as quickly as the fours!”
of a sixth title have vastly improved On this weekend’s evidence, Shakey’s chances