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Hav­ing fin­ished first or sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship ev­ery year since 2012, Shane Byrne has been in a po­si­tion sim­i­lar to this many times be­fore. Whether he’s been on top or chas­ing, he knows what it takes to win a ti­tle and ahead of this week­end, he’s re­main­ing ex­tremely re­al­is­tic. “I’m not stupid,” he says. “I know I’m not in the po­si­tion I need to be in, but I’m not go­ing to sit here and tell you all the ifs and buts that other rid­ers come out with. Every­one can make ex­cuses and make their case seem bet­ter than it is, but the re­al­ity is I’m 33 points be­hind Leon and it’s not good enough. “I know that if I win three races this week­end and he fin­ishes all three I’m not go­ing to pull 33 points back. I can’t see him go­ing there and try­ing des­per­ately to beat us, if he’s smart enough he’ll ride to fin­ish where he needs to fin­ish to win the ti­tle. “In some ways that means the pres­sure is all off now. All I need to do is try to en­joy rid­ing the Du­cati and try to win three races and if some­thing hap­pens to Leon, then all of a sud­den it’s all to play for. If it goes my way, then great, if not I might have to stick around for an­other two or three years.”

It’s not quite clear where and why it’s gone wrong for Byrne this year, seven DNFS haven’t helped, but with Haslam 33 points ahead of him also with seven DNFS to his name, that’s no ex­cuse.

“All sorts of things have gone wrong this year but there’s no point in mak­ing ex­cuses, the re­al­ity is we are where we are. We’ve had to push much harder all year and that’s re­sulted in me fall­ing down a cou­ple of times, a cou­ple of mechanicals – it’s taken its toll. I think I’ve fin­ished fewer races this year than any other year in my ca­reer, and that’s why we are in this po­si­tion.

“At the end of the day, the per­son who gets the job done over the course of the year is the per­son who should be cham­pion. Leon has had an upand-down year like me, but in the Show­down things have re­ally worked for him. He’s never won a cham­pi­onship other than on a scooter and this is his best shot at get­ting one done, so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how it plays out.”

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