Oulton Park is the venue for round three of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship this bank holiday weekend with Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team riders Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwinstill after their first wins of the season.
For five-times and defending champion Byrne, he knows he needs to get his season started after being ruled out of action after suffering injury in morning warm up at Donington Park at the opening round and then, after a fourth place finish in race one at his local track of Brands Hatch over Easter, he crashed out of race two whilst challenging for the lead.
The Sittingbourne rider languishes down in 14th place in the points table as a result and knows nothing short of victory at the Cheshire track will suffice if he’s to challenge for crown number six and although the Showdown format of the series does allow for a couple of hiccups, he knows he can’t afford any more on the factory-supported Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R.
Meanwhile Irwin, from Carrickfergus, is hoping for a repeat of his great start to the season when he followed up sixth place in the opening race of the year with a superb podium in the second outing at Donington Park on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R. The Ulsterman scored a sixth place in the opening race at Brands Hatch two weeks ago before he too crashed out, in almost identical fashion to team-mate Byrne and occupies sixth in the title race at this early juncture.
Shane Byrne: “It seems all I've gone on about lately is getting my season started. Donington Park never went to plan at all and then Brands Hatch wasn't what we needed so onwards and upwards. We tested recently at Oulton Park and got some very important miles under our belts and even though I wasn’t 100% happy with the bike, we still ended up second fastest so hopefully we can build on that. The fact remains and is quite simple, I need to win and that’s my intention.”
Glenn Irwin: “It was cool to go to Brands Hatch on some sort of form and although I made a mistake in the second race I now feel like I'm going to Oulton Park in much better form. It's a track I haveenjoyed in the past and I have no doubt we will be competitive. A strong qualifying for race one is key for me now to challenge at the front in both races. I'm happy with my package right now and I have learnt a lot about tyre life and I can see the whole job falling into place. That said, there is no room for complacency and I'll be doing my homework during this week.”
Paul Bird, Team Owner: “We’ve had a difficult start to the season and it’s now time to get things back on track. Both riders know what they have to do this weekend and we can ill-afford giving our rivals a further advantage. The team has been developing the bike since Brands Hatch and both Shakey and Glenn are capable of winning so our season starts now. Oulton Park is a local race for us so we will have plenty of support and expectations are high of some good results.”
Images courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography & Double Red: Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at Brands Hatch