Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
Eight wins, a third title in nine years, the first championship win for Kawasaki in two decades… there are a lot of reasons to explain why you have voted Shane Byrne as your runaway 2012 Crash.net
British Superbike Rider of the Year.
Cynics can point out that Byrne didn't score the most points throughout the season, but for anyone who thinks Byrne isn't as deserving of the championship win need only watch the final race of the season when, with the title all but sealed should he hold station behind Josh Brookes in second position, he dives for the lead to ensure he secures his third career crown in ultimate style.
While there is little doubting Byrne's pedigree on a Superbike, he certainly wasn't as obvious a title favourite as some of his rivals coming into the season. Indeed, though the return of former champions Paul Bird Motorsport with factory-supported Kawasaki machinery was certainly an accomplished combination on paper, there were still misgivings about the potential of the fairly new ZX-10R.
A handful of podiums in the early rounds allayed those fears, however, and Byrne would emerge a race winner by round three at Oulton Park. Further success followed at Knockhill and Brands Hatch, breathing space that ensured he was 'Title Showdown'-bound even when a fall at Cadwell Park left him nursing a broken collarbone and enduring a two-round stint on the sidelines.
An ironic turnaround for a rider that lost out on the 2011 title during the three-round shootout, despite scoring the most points over the course of the year, Byrne stood to benefit on this occasion when the points were equalised.
Showing no after-effects from the injury, Byrne burst back to form at Assen with a win and a second place, while a pair of seconds at Silverstone put him in position for a title run at the triple-header finale at Brands Hatch.
A veritable 'master' of his home circuit, Byrne wouldn't put a foot wrong all weekend, his trio of wins doing more than enough to complete the inevitable.
With a 2012 trophy to join his 2008 and 2003 cups, who wants to bet against Byrne making it a record-breaking fourth in 2013…?
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2012:
2. Alex Lowes