Shane Byrne began the defence of his MCE Insurance British Superbike crown by taking the opening race win of the season
on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, but a mistake as he tried to challenge for the lead in the closing stages of the second race arguably cost him the double as James Ellison celebrated victory.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne started from pole position to take the lead after a flying start, but Aussie Josh Brookes forced his Tyco Suzuki ahead on the fifth lap. However Byrne fought back and regained the lead at half distance, en route to his sixth victory in as many appearances at the Kent circuit.
“I had a big headache and stress ahead of the race as it was the first one of the season,” admitted Byrne. “I made a good start, but I was steady to start with and wanted someone to come through and set the pace. I was happy to follow Josh for ten or so laps and then had the pace to dig in and take the victory.”
Alex Lowes, making his debut for Samsung Honda, took second place ahead of Brookes in a race that was red-flagged on the final lap after an incident involving James Westmoreland and Dan Linfoot, the latter sustaining a cracked pelvis.
Ellison meanwhile had a dramatic opening race after making ‘a schoolboy error’ as just prior to the start of the warm up lap his visor had detached from his helmet and he was wheeled off the grid for it to be fixed. He then incurred a ride through penalty for taking an incorrect grid position at the start of the race.
The consolation for the Cumbrian rider, making his debut with the Milwaukee Yamaha team after a year in MotoGP, was that he set the fastest lap to earn pole start for the second race. He then led and set the pace in the second race before holding off the late dramatic challenge from Byrne to take the win.
Byrne, who has a single point lead in the title stakes, explained: “James had a bit of a bobble at Surtees and I thought ‘this is it, my chance’. I got alongside him, but he peeled back quicker than I expected. I just clipped his back wheel but managed to stay upright and finish third.”
Ellison took his seventh career MCE BSB victory ahead of Lowes and Byrne while returning triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari brought his Samsung Honda home in fourth place, just ahead of Brookes.
Race one result:
1:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +1.376s
3:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +6.207s
4:Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +9.009s
5:Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda) +9.326s
6:Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +13.351s
Race two result:
1:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha)
2:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +1.997s
3:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +5.904s
4:Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +11.507s
5:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +15.974s
6:Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +21.280s
1:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 41
2:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 40
3:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 27
4:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 25
5:Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) 23
6:Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 21