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Shane Byrne wraps up 2012 BSB title
14 October 2012 CLICK HERE
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Shane Byrne has wrapped up his third career British Superbike Championship title in style by completing a hat-trick of victories in the final round of the season at Brands Hatch.
With his earlier two wins around the Kent circuit putting him 23 points clear of Brookes coming into the season finale, Byrne needed a mere 14th place finish to complete the inevitable.
However, while it looked as though the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider would be content to hold station behind his rival, a determined penultimate lap pass would see him cross the line as champion from the best possible position.
Indeed, while Brookes was quick off the line from his pole position, a similarly fast get away from Byrne would see him slot into second place, comfortably behind his main rival, but ahead of chasers Michael Laverty and Alex Lowes.
As it stood, Byrne appeared on course to settle for second place behind Brookes, but began to reel the Australian in with a third of the race to go, the local rider in turn being chased by Laverty and Lowes.
As such, despite the knowledge that a single error could scupper his title hopes, Byrne pushed for the lead and got his reward on the penultimate revolution when he swept ahead on the run into Hawthorne's. Catching Brookes somewhat unawares, Byrne proceeded to keep his lines clean over the final lap to collect his trophy from the top of the podium.
Sealing the title with eight race victories – four of which came in the critical seven-race Title Showdown phase -, the championship win adds to Byrne's previous successes in 2003 (Paul Bird Monstermob) and 2008 (GSE Racing). Furthermore, it is the first BSB title for Kawasaki since John Reynolds won back in 1992.
Behind Byrne and Brookes on the road, Laverty and Lowes's podium battle ended at Paddock Hill Bend on the final lap when Lowes clipped the inside kerb and fell, dragging Laverty down with him.
Their demise duly promoted Tommy Hill onto the final step of the podium, the outgoing champion claiming third in the overall standings as well.
Very nearly capitalising on Laverty and Lowes's exit to leapfrog them in the standings, Tommy Bridewell's breakthrough season on the Supersonic BMW concluded with another fourth place finish and sixth in the standings, just seven points behind the two Honda riders in the end.
Barry Burrell completed his successful weekend with another top five finish in fifth, ahead of James Westmoreland, who bounced back from his earlier crash to seal the BSB Riders' Cup for the highest-placed non-Showdown competitor.
Burrell's team-mate Peter Hickman completed a successful day for Buildbase BMW in seventh place, ahead of Jon Kirkham and Chris Walker, while Noriyuki Haga's first season of BSB racing ended with a tenth place finish.
Outside the top ten, Jason O'Halloran, Stuart Easton, Patric Muff, Luca Scassa and Michael Rutter picked up the final points of 2012.