Shane Byrne pulled off one of the most remarkable victories in his career to maintain his single point advantage over Alex Lowes in the chase for the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in a dramatic penultimate round at Silverstone.
The three times winner of the country’s premier crown could only walk with the aid of crutches after high-siding off his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki and slamming down heavily on the Luffield section of the Northamptonshire circuit, painfully bashing his right hip during Saturday’s free practice.
Lengthy physio and pain-killers had Byrne back on track to face the challenge of Lowes who was brimming with confidence after powering his Samsung Honda to his seventh pole position but as the adrenalin kicked in, Byrne was full of fight in two frantic encounters which both were decided on the last corner.
Lowes grabbed the first by 0.094 seconds and looked to have done just enough to complete the double but Byrne had other ideas and shrugged aside the pain to snatch the advantage in the last corner and then win the dash to the line by 0.012secs in a photo finish.
Byrne said: “I’m just ecstatic to have that win – I thought I had a plan for the race but we both upped the pace and it came down to the last lap and I wasn’t sure if I could get him. I got a run on him and he started a little bit wide into the last corner and I got the drive and just did it – I was thinking of a strong second but then the red mist came down and I went for it.
“In the first race I made a pass on Alex then made a bit of mistake, running a bit too fast into a corner as I got a bit too excited and we were both on the limit. It was amazing, my front wheel was on top of the kerb, it was so close I thought we would touch, so I rolled it off a bit and he got me,” he added.
Lowes who now counts down to the Brands Hatch season finale said: “You don’t race to come second, but having said that you have to take your hat off to him for him for doing what he did, and races like that are what you live for. There were some epic battles today that I really enjoyed. There was no way I could get rid of Shakey.”
Tommy Bridewell took third place in each of the races aboard his Milwaukee Yamaha with his Title Fighter team-mate James Ellison taking a fighting fifth in the opener, carving through from the sixth row of the grid after a qualifying crash. Ellison then overcame a huge moment in race two when he saved a high-side and was off the seat but holding on before remounting at speed to salvage fourth place. He remained third in the standings ahead of Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes who was sidelined by a machine issue in the first race but fifth next time out ahead of the triple-header decider at Brands Hatch.
1:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda)
2:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.094s
3:Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +8.372s
4:PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +8.605s
5:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +14.407s
6:Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +15.568s
1:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.012s
3:Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +3.686s
4:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +6.916s
5:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +7.507s
6:PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +7.597s
1:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 604
2:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 603
3:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 562
4:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 546
5:James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) 534
6:Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 522