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Byrne battles back for eighth win

29 June 2008

Shane Byrne has scored his eighth victory of the season at Mallory Park after meticulously picking his way up the order to head off Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow.

Continuing to eke out his already substantial championship advantage, Byrne defied a disappointing start and a mid-race incident to pull off a number of tidy overtaking manoeuvres and win by a comfortable margin.

Indeed, Byrne didn't have it too easy from the start when he was bundled down to fourth place, behind early leader Cal Crutchlow, Michael Laverty and Leon Haslam. Pole sitter Tom Sykes, meanwhile, crossed the line at the end of the first lap in sixth following a tardy getaway, the Suzuki rider even slipping behind fast starting team-mate Atsushi Watanabe.

The first lap wasn't lacking in incident though after Leon Camier was squeezed off the circuit at turn one and launched into a series of dramatic looking rolls. The Snetterton race winner, however, was able to make his own way back behind the barrier.

Back at the front, Haslam was placing Laverty under immediate pressure, slipping through at the hairpin on lap three, only to run wide and allow the Relentless Suzuki back into second straight away again.

It wasn't until lap six though that Haslam made his move stick, at the same corner. However, when Haslam ran slightly wide, Laverty attempted to slip back up the inside of the Honda at the exit, but was collected by Byrne, who was attempting an opportunistic move up the inside of both riders when Laverty effectively closed the door. Pressed up against the concrete wall that marks the inside of the corner, Byrne was lucky to keep going.

Although both riders got away again, Sykes was now up to third, ahead of a rather alarmed Laverty and a recovering Byrne, the duo staying in contention thanks to their huge lead over the chasing pack.

Indeed, with Crutchlow unable to pull any kind of gap over Haslam, the top five had closed up again within ten laps. Having been unable to make his move stick on lap 16, Haslam finally pulled a decisive pass on Crutchlow at the hairpin two laps later to take the lead of the race for the first time.

Just behind though, Byrne was on a charge, passing Sykes for third on lap 19 having already dispatched Laverty. Crutchlow posed little resistance to the Airwaves Ducati rider though as he swept past on lap 25, giving himself five tours of the short Leicestershire to try and overhaul Haslam. He would only need one though to get a better run out of the Bus Stop chicane, Byrne simply easing past down the home straight and into the lead.

Haslam attempted to respond but his hopes were dashed when a lapped Martin Jessopp posed a big problem for the leading riders in their attempts to pass him, the Daily Star Cup rider managing to block each of the top five individually and causing the lead pack to space out.

There was still time for drama though when, on the penultimate lap, Laverty suddenly tumbled off his Suzuki to end his hopes of a strong result. Although he rejoined, he could only recover to 11th place.

Back at the front though, Byrne was celebrating his win of just over a second from Haslam, who will be disappointed to have lost out on another race win having led the way in the latter stages. Crutchlow ran Haslam close in the latter stages but couldn't find a way past, while Sykes was left to rue his dismal start for his eventual fourth place finish.

Although the battle at the front of the field commanded most of the attention, there was still plenty of action further down the order after an intense battle over what would eventually turn out to be fifth place.

James Ellison eventually prevailed, the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda rider battling his way up from 15th on the grid to secure some very useful points. He finished ahead of Billy McConnell, who scored his best result of the season on the MSS Discovery Kawasaki. The Australian himself had prevailed in an entertaining battle with Simon Andrews and Tristan Palmer. Palmer had run as high as sixth in the early stages but would eventually settle for eighth place.

Unable to maintain the momentum from his superb start, Watanabe nonetheless withstood race long pressure from the top Daily Star Cup runner John Laverty to equal his season's best result in ninth.

There was disappointment for Karl Harris and Michael Rutter though after they both suffered retirements. Harris was running sixth when he slowed with a mechanical problem, while Rutter spent most of the race recovering from a problem that forced him to start from the pit-lane before he eventually fell on the penultimate lap.


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