The Penrith-based Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team got their 2016 MCE British Superbike Championship campaign formally underway at Silverstone this afternoon with four-times champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and new team-mate Glenn Irwin qualifying in fourth and 17th respectively for tomorrow’s opening 14-lap race.
Today saw mixed weather conditions throughout the day with both rain and cool temperatures, but when Datatag Extreme Qualifying got underway, the rain had stopped and the track was continually drying although a number of damp patches still existed. However, both Byrne and Irwin had no problems during the first part of Q1, whereby Byrne topped the timesheets on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R, and the duo duly continued into the second and shorter 12-minute session for Q2.
As the track improved, so too did the lap times and it remained tight as the 18 remaining riders battled it out for the top nine places that would see them advance through to the final qualifying session in Q3. Byrne set the third fastest time to comfortably make it through, although Irwin had to settle for 17th as the Carrickfergus rider started his maiden season in the MCE BSB Championship in solid fashion.
That left 39-year old Londoner Byrne to single-handedly fly the flag for the team in the final nine-minute session and a time of 2m 05.827s saw him finish in fourth place and only miss out on a front row position by 0.1s as he recommenced his Ducati career for Paul Bird’s team.
Shane Byrne: “Today’s been my first real go in anger at putting in a good lap time and although I did that, I couldn’t quite find that last little bit that makes the difference and was perhaps over-riding the bike a little bit. Having said that, the last part of qualifying was really good for me and I understood more about the bike in that session than the others although by then, there wasn’t much tyre left. To finish fourth and only 0.3s off pole is pretty pleasing and we’ve got good potential for tomorrow, so I’m looking forward now to two strong races.”
Glenn Irwin: “My goal at the beginning of the weekend was to make the top 18 in qualifying so to do that was pleasing, although having been fourth fastest in the first part of qualifying, I’m a bit disappointed to have ended up 17th. I missed the window a bit and found myself riding on my own whilst I had a small issue with the front brake so the first target tomorrow will be to make a good start. I’ll keep chipping away and am learning all the time, so I’m hopeful of scoring some good points tomorrow.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “Shakey’s qualifying position is very good and to be so close to the front row first time out is a great effort. Conditions were challenging with the track drying all the time and we weren’t running a fully dry setting on the bike so we’re pleased with fourth place. Glenn’s a little bit disappointed with his end position and a few issues with the bike hampered him, but we’re happy with his performance and are confident that with a few more changes he’ll be able to improve his position considerably.”
Datatag Extreme Qualifying - Times
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki) 2m05.501s
2 Jason O’Halloran (Honda) +0.061s
3 Christian Iddon (BMW) +0.226s
4 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.326s
5 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki) +0.467s
6 Michael Laverty (BMW) +0.601s
17 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Images courtesy of Jon Jessop: Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2).