Byrne turns it around with Thruxton win
30 May 2011
Having begun his day at the back of the grid for race one, Shane Byrne ended the fourth round of the MCE British Superbike Championship on a high with a dominant third win of the season in race two at Thruxton.
Having surged from 33rd all the way up to third position during the first encounter, Byrne was rewarded with pole position in race two by virtue of his fastest lap, a privilege he made the most of as he got away with the leaders into the opening bends.
Though Michael Rutter led initially in what continued to be difficult weather conditions, Byrne was ahead by the end of the opening lap and simply proceeded to pull away relentlessly.
Similarly to the first race, a lead group of Peter Hickman, Rutter, John Hopkins, Michael Laverty, Dan Linfoot and Alex Lowes, plus Tommy Hill, swiftly broke away from the chasing pack as they diced for the leading positions.
Once more it was Lowes, starting tenth this time, that made the swiftest progress, scything his way up the order to run in second position by lap five and lapping at a similar pace to that of Byrne.
However, his hopes of closing down Byrne's already sizeable four second lead came to an abrupt end on lap six when he high-sided on the exit of the Club chicane. Unhurt, though frustrated, it was a disappointing end to an otherwise very positive weekend for the MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider.
Lowes's retirement reinstated Hickman into second position, the Tyco Honda man being chased by Rutter as the race entered its closing stages. Though Rutter pounced for second on lap ten, Hickman promptly responded by retaking the position and pulling away from the Ducati rider.
Rutter's race would then come to a dramatic conclusion just over a lap from the chequered flag when he crashed at Church, the race one podium winner falling at high-speed but walking away seemingly unhurt.
Back at the front, Byrne completed his third victory of the season to complete a satisfying turnaround and further cement his place in the impending BSB shootout.
Rutter's demise ensured Hickman was free to score an excellent maiden BSB podium, a rich reward for him in what has been an excellent weekend. Second place also marks the best BSB result yet for Tyco Honda and comes after Tommy Bridewell scored a podium at the Brands Hatch opener.
John Hopkins crossed the line in third position for another impressive podium finish, the American getting the better of Dan Linfoot on the penultimate lap. Frustratingly for Linfoot, he would also be passed on the final bend by Hill, leaving him in fifth.
A year on from scoring a maiden BSB win at Thruxton, Josh Brookes completed a quiet weekend in sixth, though he did get the better of Laverty, who couldn't match the pace that took him to victory in race one as he finished seventh.
Chris Walker took his second top ten finish of the day on the improving Pr1mo Kawasaki, ahead of Jon Kirkham and Martin Jessopp, while Loris Baz and James Westmoreland completed a disappointing weekend for Motorpoint Yamaha in 11th and 12th. John Laverty, Gary Mason – who started from the pit lane – and Steve Brogan rounded out the points.
Elsewhere, reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari was well off the pace once again, crossing the line in 22nd overall, while Barry Burrell completed his second EVO win of the day for Buildbase BMW.
In the championship race, Byrne and Hopkins have pulled away from the chasing pack as they look strong bets for a shootout place, though things remain somewhat tighter behind them.
Indeed, with four rounds gone, the absent Stuart Easton remains third, ahead of Hill, Laverty and now Hickman, who is now the only rider to have finished every race inside the points this season. Kiyonari is down to seventh, though nine points cover Hill in fourth down to Kirkham in ninth.