The Penrith-based Be Wiser Ducati team endured mixed fortunes at round two of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch this Easter weekend, with both Shane Byrne and GlennIrwin taking strong finishes in the first race before suffering near identical crashes in the second.
Ruled out of the opening round two weeks ago due to injury, ‘Shakey’ bounced back in style by topping Friday’s Official Test on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R and, following a strong qualifying session, the five-times champion started today’s opening race from row two of the grid.
From there, the local ace from Sittingbourne made steady progress through the field from seventh position in the early laps up to fourth in the latter stages where he was poised to challenge for a podium but in the end, he had to settle for fourth place to open his account for the season.
Starting the second race from the second row once more, Byrne made swifter progress up the order and by half race distance, was up to fourth and looking very strong. Third place and the final podium position became his at the beginning of lap 24 but as he entered Clearways, he lost the front end and crashed out without injury.
It was a similar tale for team-mate Glenn Irwin who had started the first race in 13th on the grid aboard the Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R but soon was making his way up the order. Just like the previous round at Donington, the Carrickfergus rider got quicker as the race wore on and he was duly rewarded with sixth place at the chequered flag.
Race two saw him shadowing team-mate Byrne through the field to hold fifth place but just as he was eyeing his second podium finish of the season, and two laps before Byrne did the same, Glenn slid off at Clearways to end his hopes.
Irwin maintains his top six position in the championship in sixth overall whilst Byrne finds himself down in 14th place with both riders looking to bounce back at the next round to make amends for their disappointment.
Shane Byrne: “I’m looking at the weekend with the glass very much being half full as there are a lot of positives to take away. It was a difficult weekend for sure and I’ve got to say the first race was really hard work as I was suffering a lot with wheelspin but the team turned things around and the bike I was riding in the second race was probably the best bike we’ve ever had in terms of set-up. Conditions suited us and I was comfortable with the pace I was running and I felt it was only going to be a matter of time before I hit the front. Once I got by Leon for third, I knew he’d be fighting back straightaway and so defended my line with a tighter line than normal going into Clearways. Unfortunately, I caught the bumps and whilst I tried my utmost to save it I ended up upside down. That’s racing and whilst there’s still a long way to go, we need to start winning races and clawing back some of the podium credits.”
Glenn Irwin: “Sixth place in the first race was a good result given the position I’d started in, but the second race was an awful lot better in terms of my pace and where I was running on track. I feltreally comfortable sitting in fifth place behind Shakey and felt confident I’d be able to move forward further still in the closing stages. I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard nor that I did anything different going into Clearways but I was caught off guard and down I went. It’s really frustrating as I’m really happy with the bike so I’m sorry for the team as they worked so hard but we’re running consistently in the leading pack now and feel like it’s where we belong.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “It was a very hard second race for us and from both riders looking very competitive and on course for a win and a podium, to end with nothing is a tough one to take. Having both riders crash at the same corner and in an almost identical fashion isn’t the type of coincidences you want either! That’s the way it goes sometimes and whilst neither rider made the best of starts in race one, both Shakey and Glenn got a decent finish and reasonable points so the race day wasn’t a complete disaster. We’ve got a lot of work to do so need to regroup for Oulton Park and make sure we come away from there with four good results.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (30 laps)
1 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Christian Iddon (BMW)
4 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
5 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
6 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (30 laps)
1 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)
2 Christian Iddon (BMW)
3 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
4 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
6 Dan Linfoot (Honda)
DNF Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
DNF Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship Standings (after two rounds)
1 Haslam 86pts
2 Mossey 81
3 Iddon 65
4 Brookes 48
5 Hickman 37
6 Irwin 36
14 Byrne 13
Pictures courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography: Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at Brands Hatch.