Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2013:
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
Having returned himself, Paul Bird Motorsport and Kawasaki to the top of the British Superbike hierarchy in 2012, Shane Byrne's 2013 campaign was all about one thing – making history!
As one of only three riders to have won three British Superbike Championship titles, Byrne came into 2013 well placed to secure a historic fourth crown. Of course, fellow triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari also stood to challenge on the Samsung Honda, but in reality the Japanese rider barely mustered a threat befitting of the 'War for Four' pre-season premise.
Indeed, if Byrne's run to the 2012 title could be described as belated having found his feet aboard the ever-improving Kawasaki ZX-10R during the second-half of the season, his 2013 campaign could have barely started better.
Uncustomary errors at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch aside, Byrne was tough to beat during the first phase of the season and even when he was beaten to the chequered flag, he was usually less than a bike's length behind in second position.
As such, by the time the nine-round phase of the season was up, Byrne had accumulated nine wins and 16 podiums in 20 races.
However, while on paper it appeared that Byrne was the hot favourite heading into the Title Showdown, in reality he was facing a looming threat from Alex Lowes, the youngster's momentum-building season bursting forth in the direct run-up to the shootout with four consecutive wins.
Indeed, regardless of his superior race wins and podiums, the advantage of only a handful of podium credits was relatively minor and the Title Showdown would duly come down to an enticing – albeit occasionally bruising - head-to-head.
And so it proved, Byrne coming away from Assen and Silverstone relatively unscathed in terms of points dropped to the in-form Lowes, even if the high-speed clash with his rival in the former and his self-inflicted practice tumble in the latter left him nursing more than a few bumps and scrapes.
However, it's a measure of the man that he wouldn't allow such set-backs to diminish his challenge and while he would go on to lose out to his rival in a tense final race face-off, few will deny that the eventual result doesn't come close to telling the full story.
Furthermore, the fact he was only fractionally beaten by Lowes in this poll proves his efforts didn't go unnoticed by you either.