Despite the unseasonal Easter weather doing its best to disrupt the opening round of the 2018Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park, the Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwin scored solid points in today’s second race following on from the opening encounter yesterday.
24 hours before, 41-year-old Londoner Shakey scored a podium for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team whilst 28-year-old Ulsterman Irwin, from Carrickfergus, posted a top six placing on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale Rs. However, heavy overnight rain looked like it would scupper any chances of racing taking place, but it eventually stopped, and a rearranged schedule meant conditions were as good as they’d been all weekend when the second race came under orders in late afternoon.
Both Byrne and Irwin lined up on the front row and at the completion of the opening lap, six-times and defending champion Byrne occupied fourth place with Irwin one place further back in fifth.
Two laps later and the duo had slipped back to fifth and sixth respectively and although the circuit had a dry line, straying off line had major repercussions, which is what happened to Irwin at half race distance when he ran wide at Redgate and dropped down to 11th.
As the race progressed, Shakey battled hard to try to claim fourth but had to settle for fifth position in the end as Irwin fought back by overhauling four riders to clinch seventh at the flag, just missing out on another top six placing. The results mean that after the opening round, Byrne occupies second place in the standings behind double winner Bradley Ray whilst Irwin is in the all-important top six going into the next round at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.
Shane Byrne: “It was quite a difficult day today with the weather, but it was great to end up with a dry race. I wanted to go one better than what I did yesterday, but I also had it in my head that the last two rookies to win, went on to do a double although I was mindful of not thinking about that too much! As it turned out, that’s what happened so massive congratulations to Brad, his commitment in the damp conditions on the opening laps was something else. I made a few mistakes during the race and as soon as you were off line, it was very tricky. You can’t win the championship at the first round, but you can lose it and to end the weekend second overall with some good points isn’t a bad place to be in.”
Glenn Irwin: “My aim this weekend was to get some podium credits and although I didn’t manage to do that, I’m pleased with how I rode and to end the weekend in the top six overall. Today’s race was tough as firstly James Ellison crashed in front me, which lost me a bit of time, and then I went straight on at Redgate. I stayed on track – just – and got passed by a lot of riders meaning I had to get past them again once more, only losing out on sixth place in a photo finish. The conditions haven’t suited me this weekend so I’m happy with the points I’ve taken and with sixth place overall in the early season table.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-Ordinator: “It’s been a bit of a mixed bag today and not many of us thought we’d be racing on slicks given how much rain we’d had both overnight and in the morning. Race control did a good job in rearranging the schedule and fifth and seventh in the race today was a solid effort by both riders especially as their overall positions in the table are higher. We could have lost a lot of ground this weekend and the team worked well throughout, dealing with a couple of crashes as well, whilst hats off to Bradley Ray on a great double victory.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race Two (18 laps)
1 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
4 Danny Buchan (Kawasaki)
5 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
6 Christian Iddon (BMW)
7 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship Points (after round one)
1 Ray 50pts
2 Byrne 31
3 Linfoot 29
4 Haslam 27
5 Mossey 19
6 Irwin 19
Images courtesy of Double Red Photographic: Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at Donington Park today.