Shane Byrne continued his almost perfect start to the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship at Snetterton this weekend with a resounding double victory at the Norfolk circuit which further extended the Sittingbourne rider's championship lead.
With another pole position half a second inside the lap record aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, the former triple MCE BSB champion grabbed the lead immediately in the first 16 lap race and although a safety car period closed the pack together, he opened up a small gap when the race resumed. Pulling out a couple of tenths of a second each lap, the lead was up to 1.3 seconds as the race entered its final part and although Yamaha's Josh Brookes reduced the deficit at one point, Shakey ran out a comfortable winner by over four seconds in the end.
With fastest lap in race one giving him pole position once again, the second race saw Byrne again take the lead from the beginning although it was once more close with Brookes nosing ahead at half race distance. Shakey retaliated immediately and although his lead was only a quarter of a second going into the 13th lap, it proved to be unlucky for Brookes as he crashed out giving Shakey the breathing space he needed and he duly completed his second MCE BSB double of the season.
The win meant Byrne has taken five wins out of the six races to date for the Penrith based team, finishing second in the only other one to lead the title race by 45 points after three rounds. He has upped his tally to a record 56 MCE BSB wins and took his total of career double wins to 12. He has also opened up a gap of 14 points in the important Podium Credits score which will become vital when the end of season Showdown takes place to decide the winner of the series.
Team-mate Stuart Easton experienced vastly differing fortunes and all he had to show for his efforts was a 13th place in the second race. Having qualified mid-pack, the Hawick rider went out on the opening lap of the first race with a broken water hose clip and that meant he had to start from the back of the grid for the second race. However, the reigning British Supersport champion battled his way through the field and was rewarded at the end of the weekend with three more championship points that keep him well in contention with the top six for a Showdown placing.
Shane Byrne: "I'm really, really happy with how this weekend's gone and the win in the first race was just what we needed. I tried really hard at the beginning with my plan to open up a bit of a gap and then conserve the tyre and control the race. That part worked but I backed off a bit too much and the boys caught up so I had to push again. I kept my eye on the big TV screen to see what the gap was and when Josh closed in towards the end; I had one last dig and brought the bike home. For race two, my crew chief felt that if I could lap consistently I'd be in a good position so I tried hard from the word go and towards the end of the race I managed to build up a bit of a buffer. The last couple of laps were a bit sketchy so I was pleased to see the chequered flag and take the win. It's very early days in the season though and there's a long way to go so we'll just keep doing what we're doing."
Stuart Easton: "Snetterton's a circuit where I've traditionally struggled but I put that to the back of my mind and approached the weekend in a positive frame of mind. Having had a good start to the year I was keen to maintain that form but, unfortunately, the results didn't materialise although it wasn't through a lack of trying and the team have worked so hard this weekend. We tried lots of things to get the bike where I wanted it to be but it was simply bad luck that put us out of the first race. It left me on the back of the grid for the second race but I plugged away and those three points could be vital. I'm only four points adrift of fifth place so we'll put this one behind us and move on to my home round at Knockhill where I'll be looking to put a smile back on my side of the garage."
Paul Bird: "Two pole positions and two race wins for Shakey means we can't ask for much more than that and to win five of the opening six races is a dream. He promised me he'd do it and he kept his word but it's still very early days yet in the championship. Stuart had some bad luck in the opening race with a part that shouldn't have broken and he was always on the back foot for race two but I'm pleased he scored a few points."
MCE British Superbike Championship Race One (16 laps)
1 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
3 James Ellison (Kawasaki)
4 Tommy Bridewell (Yamaha)
5 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
6 Chris Walker (Kawasaki)
DNF Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two (16 laps)
1 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2 James Ellison (Kawasaki)
3 Tommy Bridewell (Yamaha)
4 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
5 Julien da Costa (Honda)
6 Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki)
13 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
Championship standings (after three rounds)
1 Byrne 145pts
2 Ellison 100
3 Brookes 85
4 Bridewell 69
5 Linfoot 51
6 Walker 49
7 Easton 47
Image courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Shane Byrne in action at Snetterton