Shane Byrne is just a handful of points shy of becoming the first rider to make it into the 2011 British Superbike title showdown, despite missing the podium at Oulton Park.
The HM Plant Honda rider led initially from fourth on the grid, much to his surprise, but while arch title rival John Hopkins would crash out, Byrne couldn't quite take advantage as he slipped behind Tommy Hill, Josh Brookes and Michael Rutter, the latter pass occurring on the final corner.
Nonetheless, despite failing to notch up any further podium credits, Byrne's fourth place means he needs just 27 points from the triple-header at Brands Hatch to book his place in the showdown a round early.
“I honestly can't believe I led some of the laps in the race as it wasn't easy. I battled for the podium and I have never had so many near crashes in one race in my career. We just need to improve our wet setting and it wasn't helped with the changing conditions over the weekend. We took a gamble on our setting for the race and it was faster than we were yesterday.
“The team did a great job to get a better feeling for me with the rear tyre and fourth place meant good points for our championship, especially as John Hopkins crashed. I was disappointed to get knocked off the podium in the race on the last lap but with the issues we were having it wasn't a bad result. I am just sorry for the fans and the HM Plant Honda team that we didn't get back on the podium.”