2nd – Shane Byrne
Average poll score out of ten: 8.5
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
When Shane Byrne won six of the opening eight races in the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship, few are likely to have considered putting their money elsewhere for the title.
Stung by the loss of the 2013 BSB title to 'frenemy' Alex Lowes, Byrne returned to finish what he started this year, once more with the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team, using the lessons learned from his thwarted bid for a record-breaking fourth career crown to ambush the competition from the start in 2014.
Considering his sprint out of the blocks, even the more steadfast cynics of the Title Showdown format were craving the opportunity for the title to remain open until the latter stages since Byrne quickly seemed well positioned to simply manage his advantage or extend it.
Indeed, though Byrne would endure something of a victory drought coming into the Title Showdown, he was off the podium just once in those 19 races, whilst his lead stood at a mammoth 107 points – an advantage that could have seen him wrap up the title nice and early under normal circumstances.
As it happens, those gains would translate to a rather scant 26 and 27 points over Josh Brookes and Ryuichi Kiyonari respectively ahead of the final three events but though the race winning momentum had swung the way of his rivals – particularly Kiyonari -, Byrne was still sitting relatively pretty.
Not that he made it easy for himself with a clumsy crash at Assen, but a return to winning ways in the following race and at Silverstone kept his nose ahead coming into the concluding round over Kiyonari. When his main rival eliminated himself from competition with a pre-race crash at Brands Hatch, the title was a foregone conclusion.
Ending the season with 10 wins and 23 podiums from 26 races, though Byrne's route to the title may have concluded more smoothly than many may have hoped for, no-one could dare use it to belittle the record-breaking achievements of a rider that is not only in his prime, but is seemingly capable of becoming even greater…
BSB Rider of the Year poll
3. Chris Walker
4. James Ellison
5. Tommy Bridewell
6. Dan Linfoot
7. Peter Hickman
8. Josh Waters
9. Josh Brookes
10. Howie Mainwaring
Shane Byrne in the BSB Rider of the Year poll
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2013:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2012:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009:
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