Round two of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship proved productive for the Be WiserDucati Racing Team who enjoyed a pair of strong results at Brands Hatch today with reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne taking his first win of the season in race one and team-mate Glenn Irwin then taking second place in race two.
The Kent venue saw dry conditions for the opening 30-lap race, and six-times champion Byrne made a strong getaway off the line on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R to tuck in behind early race leader Bradley Ray and the duo remained nose to tail for the majority of the race. Going into the closing stages, Sittingbourne-based Londoner Byrne was ready to make his move and duly grabbed the lead at Paddock Hill Bend on the penultimate lap from where he hung on to take his 85th BSB career victory.
Irwin, meanwhile, put in a strong ride to claim seventh following a poor start which saw the Carrickfergus rider back to 12th on the first lap but steadily moved forward during the race and was duly rewarded with nine championship points for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team.
With Shakey on the front row for the second 30-lap encounter and Glenn in seventh, the team was confident of another strong showing but it was only six laps old before the red flag came out due to rain. Restarted over the shorter distance of 22 laps and in wet conditions, both riders were part of a six-rider group battling for the lead in the early stages of the race.
Byrne slipped back to fourth as the race progressed, but Irwin continued to dispute the lead with Leon Haslam, Michael Laverty and Jake Dixon. Positions between them changed regularly and although Irwin led on the penultimate lap, he ultimately had to settle for second place.
Nevertheless, Irwin’s first podium of the season, along with his earlier seventh place, have moved him up into fourth overall in the championship table with Byrne remaining in second but having closed the gap to Ray to just ten points.
Shane Byrne: “Overall, it’s been a good weekend with a good haul of points and the first race couldn’t have gone any better. Brad and I pulled a bit of a gap over the rest of the field and I had a plan for the closing stages but when he ran wide, I took advantage. I saw the job through though and it was great to get the first win of the season. The conditions for race two were far from ideal and I lost a bit of ground so with a good gap behind me, I settled for a solid fourth. With a first and a fourth place, it hasn’t been a bad day and with Glenn getting a podium too, it’s been a good day for the team.”
Glenn Irwin: “I’ve felt strong all weekend, regardless of the conditions, and whilst seventh in race onewas a good result given my starting position on the grid, I knew it could have been so much better. I felt comfortable running at the front in race two and perhaps showed Leon my hand too early, but he was getting a lot more drive out of the corners than me. I gave everything I had, and we’ve improved a lot this weekend, with both the bike and myself so fourth overall after two rounds is a good start and I know there’s still a lot more to come.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-Ordinator: “We were hoping for silverware this weekend and that’s what we got so it’s been a good weekend for the team. It was a shame we couldn’t get both riders onto the podium in race two but with Shakey getting his first win of the season and Glenn his first podium, we can’t complain. It’s early days but we’re sitting in second and fourth overall in the table and picking up some good points and podium credits so it’s all going the right way. Everyone’s in one piece and we can go to our local circuit, Oulton Park, next in a good frame of mind.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race One (30 laps)
1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
3 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
4 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
5 Christian Iddon (BMW)
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
7 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race Two (22 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
3 Michael Laverty (BMW)
4 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Christian Iddon (BMW)
Championship Positions (after two rounds)
1 Ray 79pts
2 Byrne 69
3 Haslam 65
4 Irwin 48
5 Laverty 36
6 Iddon 33
Images courtesy of Double Red Photographic: Shane Byrne (podium) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action.