Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and the Penrith-based Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team bounced back from a first race crash to claim his 58th career BSB win to ensure he remained at the top of the title table with just two rounds to go following round ten of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Assen in The Netherlands today.
The triple MCE BSB Champion endured a frustrating weekend as a crash in Datatag Extreme Qualifying saw him well down the grid and that frustration wasn't eased when he crashed out of the opening race of the day in damp conditions to record his first non-finish of the year aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Although uninjured in the spill, the 37-year old Londoner saw one of his main rivals, Ryuichi Kiyonari, finish in second place in the race to take a major bite out of his championship lead at the first round of the title-deciding Showdown stage.
However, the second race saw much more favourable conditions and, after a race long battle with Japanese ace Kiyonari, the Isle of Sheppey rider left it until the very last corner on the very last lap to make his move and dived up the inside going into the chicane to seal a crucial win.
It was Byrne's first win in 13 races and his first since Knockhill in June to make it seven victories for the season going into the penultimate round at Silverstone in two weeks time.
Team-mate Stuart Easton enjoyed one of his best weekends of the year with the Hawick rider taking his second podium of the season to strengthen his grip on the BSB Superbike Cup. The Scottish ace took a brilliant third place in an eventful first race, which saw him tear his way through the pack from 15th on the grid, and followed this up with a strong sixth in the later dry race where he was again well in touch with the podium places.
The results keep the 30-year-old in seventh overall to open up a 23-point lead over James Ellison behind him.
Shane Byrne: "We were in a very difficult situation in race one having missed out on the wet practice on Saturday and it was a nightmare but I'd worked my way up to third and felt reasonably secure only to crash out near the end. It gave me more work to do in the second race but once I'd got on the back of Kiyo, my main concern was trying to decide when to make a move. The pace for the first half of the race wasn't that strong but in the second half, Kiyo stepped it up and I knew it would go to the end. I had terrific mid-corner and exit speed just before the chicane but knew if I passed him he'd come straight back so I decided to leave it until the very last lap so he wouldn't have chance to respond so it was fantastic to pull it off and eke out a bit of gap in the points table."
Stuart Easton: "I said after Donington that I wanted to spray some champagne again before the season ended and I got to do that today, which was great. To be honest, I wanted both races to be dry and when the rain came for the first race I was a bit gutted as I'm not the biggest fan of the wet. We had really good pace in the dry so I wasn't sure how I'd fare in the wet but it all worked out well and I'll take a podium however it comes. I just didn't quite have the pace to go with the front group in the second race but it's been a good weekend with two top six finishes and I'll be looking for more of the same between now and the end of the season."
Paul Bird: "Shakey came out of the blocks fighting after crashing out in the opening race and I'm pleased he managed to get the victory. He's been plugging away in recent rounds without winning so it was an important result. Stuart is continuing to show some great end of season form and he topped that with a podium today. All in all, we had a good weekend, some others fared a lot worse than us."
MCE British Superbike Championship Race One - 17 laps
1 Josh Waters (Suzuki)
2 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
3 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
4 James Ellison (Kawasaki)
5 Christian Iddon (Bimota)
6 Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki)
DNF Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two - 18 laps
1 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
3 Tommy Bridewell (Yamaha)
4 Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki)
5 John Hopkins (Suzuki)
6 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
Championship Points (after ten rounds)
1 Byrne 587 points
2 Kiyonari 575
3 Brookes 536
4 Bridewell 531
5 Linfoot 524
6 Walker 505
7 Easton 176
Image courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Stuart Easton in action at Assen