Reigning MCE Insurance British Superbike champion Shane “Shakey” Byrne will start the opening race of the season on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit from pole position having headed off the threat from Alex Lowes in the Datatag Extreme Qualifying session.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne had set the pace in free practice and carried that momentum forward into qualifying, running at near lap record pace, as he gave the pretenders to his crown a reminder that he has his sights firmly set on a record-breaking fourth title.
“The aim was to be on the front row of the grid,” said Byrne. “We still have some work to do but as the saying goes – so far, so good. Myself and Kiyo are obviously both aiming for that fourth title but there are plenty of other riders who won’t make it easy for us starting tomorrow here at Brands Hatch.”
Alex Lowes closed his Samsung Honda to within 0.142 seconds of Byrne and was satisfied with his performance, he said: “There’s no doubt that Shakey is the man around here, but I enjoyed us all going for it again in qualifying. The lap I did was my best lap time around Brands Hatch; I was a bit nervous not to do too much too soon but I am really happy with the front row start.”
Third fastest was James Ellison, returning from MotoGP to ride for Milwaukee Yamaha, and he joked about his return to the front row: “My crew chief told me not to come back to the garage if I was not up at the front, so I am happy enough with third. Shakey set a hot pace out there but I am happy that I am in a good position for the races tomorrow.”
Buildbase BMW’s Jon Kirkham completes the front row which features four different manufacturers as he edged out Keith Farmer on the second Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki. Last season’s runner-up Josh Brookes, returning triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari and American PJ Jacobsen complete row two ahead of James Westmoreland and Dan Linfoot as six teams featured in the top ten qualifiers.
Datatag Extreme Qualifying result (grid for Race one):
1: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 45.655s
2: Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.142s
3: James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.315s
4: Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +0.410s
5: Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.437s
6: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.482s
7: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +0.506s
8: PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +0.678s
9: James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +1.049s
10: Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +1.060s