The Be Wiser Ducati team of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwin had a challenging day at OultonPark today with five-times and defending champion Byrne scoring a best position of seventh in the two MCE British Superbike Championship races to slip back to third overall in the title chase.
Having qualified in second place on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R for today’s opening 18-lap race, which comprised the first round of the Showdown, the dynamics changed from a dry circuit to a wet one to give Byrne and his five other ‘Title Fighters’ more to contend with.
It started well for the Sittingbourne-based Londoner in the opening race as he slotted into fourth right in the wheel tracks of his Showdown rivals but it was soon clear all was not well and a misting visor meant he slipped back through the pack to end up ninth at the flag.
However, the result meant he was back on the fourth row for the second 18-lap encounter around the Cheshire circuit but was soon up inside the top ten and by lap five was up to seventh as he started to close in on the group of riders in front of him. By half race distance, he was one of the quickest riders on track and a podium position looked a possibility but a couple of mistakes, combined with a lack of grip towards the end of the race, saw him end up in seventh place.
Meanwhile Irwin had to start the first race from the fifth row and with a great start, he was up to ninth at the completion of the first lap. But that was as good as it got for the Ulsterman from Carrickfergus as he dropped back to eventually claim 11th at the flag.
The 27 year old started the second race one place and one row behind his team-mate Byrne but ended the first lap in 15th place. Aiming for a top ten position, it proved to be a punishing race for Glenn and after running on at the chicane, he had to settle for 12th place at the conclusion of the race and now occupies 11th in the series standings.
Shane Byrne: “It’s a bit difficult to find the words at the moment and after having three poor rounds, I was feeling really positive coming into Oulton Park, especially after finishing first and second here in May. This was the part of the season I was looking forward to the most and where the real stuff was going to start but Friday was a disaster ending the day over a second off the pace. Fair play to the team, they turned the bike around for qualifying and it was only my mistake that cost us pole. We had a wet warm up today but I was quick and thought the race would be ok but after about three laps of the race, I was really struggling to see. I don’t know what caused it but I couldn’t see a thing and when I saw 10 laps to go on my pit board, my heart sank. I tried everything to clear the visor but ended up ninth whilst a poor lap time gave me a poor grid position for race two. I knew what I needed to do and got my head down but when you try hard like that, you end up making mistakes, which is what I did. I’m not even going to look at the points table but all I know is that things can change quickly in bike racing and this is far from over.”
Glenn Irwin: “It’s been a tough day’s racing and I’m still struggling after my Knockhill crash, not withany injuries but more with my confidence, which is subsequently taking the edge of my riding. The nature of the circuit means the bike is often unsettled and when the bike became upset, I was backing off a bit so I’m naturally disappointed with my results. I’ll go away for a couple of weeks now and look to bounce back at Assen with two good rides.”
Stuart Bland, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s been a very disappointing weekend and the steamed up visor for Shakey set off a chain of events whereby he had a poor starting position for race two and then used up a lot of his tyre trying to catch the leading group. He pushed very hard and almost got to where he needed to be but it wasn’t to be. Glenn’s still struggling with his injuries but where Silverstone masked them, with it being so flat, the undulating nature of the Oulton circuit meant it didn’t. Dan Linfoot winning did us a favour as it took some points off Leon and 23 points off the lead isn’t the end of the world, we’ve come back from a lot worse.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 John Hopkins (Ducati)
3 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
4 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
5 James Ellison (Yamaha)
6 Michael Laverty (Yamaha)
9 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
11 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Bradley Ray (Suzuki)
4 Peter Hickman (BMW)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
7 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
12 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship standings (after ten rounds)
1 Haslam 571pts
2 Brookes 549
3 Byrne 548
4 Dixon 541
5 Hickman 530
6 O’Halloran 517
11 Irwin 116
Images courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2)