Having stood on the podium just once during two years of World Superbike racing, Shane Byrne needed just one race to return to the British Superbike top step as he marked his return with a victory at Brands Hatch.
His first BSB race since bidding farewell to the series he won in 2008, Byrne looked set for a race-long tussle with Michael Laverty and Tommy Hill, only for the former to crash and the latter to be delayed whilst avoiding him.
Though Byrne was also forced to slow down, thus losing the lead briefly to Stuart Easton, he snatched the position shortly after the safety car period before cruising to the finish line.
“I didn't have any excuses if I didn't have a result riding for the championship-winning team, the HM Plant Honda rider mused. “It was a hectic race and I got a good start and then Michael's crash happened in slow motion right in front of me and I was lucky that I managed to miss him. That incident then bunched us all up and then I had a fight with Stuart Easton but I knew I had to get passed him as soon as possible. It's fantastic to have won the first race of the season.”
Eyeing the double in race two, Byrne got the better start to lead over the first-half of the race, but was pushed down to second by the hard charging Hill at the midway point.
Though Byrne stayed with the Yamaha rider, an attempt to pass at Paddock Hill Bend on the penultimate lap would instead leave him in third position behind his team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari also.
Nonetheless, Byrne was delighted with his successful return to British Superbikes, his victory in race one bringing his career tally up to 28.
“I felt good again in the second race and I had another good start so I was happy with that! I was able to lead for a few laps and I was pushing but then Tommy came past me and I wanted to get back to the front. I had been losing to Tommy a bit coming out of Clearways and then with three laps to go I got a better drive out of the corner.
“As we approached Paddock Hill Bend I thought 'I can make this' then I realised 'no you can't' so I had to scrub off some speed which lost me the place. It was one of those things, but to come away from here with a first and a third ahead of Oulton Park next weekend is a good start to the season and all credit has to go to the HM Plant Honda team.”