26 May 2008
Byrne five alive in Donington opener.
Shane Byrne has extended his lead in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship to 59 points after a comfortable victory in the seventh race of the season at Donington Park.
Making the most of his pole position, although he shared the lead with James Ellison and Cal Crutchlow over the course of the 20 lap race, it was only ever the Airwaves Ducati rider that maintained a consistent pace to finish 2.4secs up on Leon Haslam.
With the rain holding off but the circuit battered by high-speed winds, Byrne was the last of the late brakers into Redgate at the getaway, edging out the fast starting but more cautious Ellison.
Nonetheless, the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda rider fought back at the bottom of the Craner Curves getting a run on Byrne up to McLeans and slipping into the lead. However, while Ellison attempted to pull out a gap on the feuding masses behind him, a rather leery slide into Melbourne Hairpin would see Byrne slip back up the inside on lap three.
Even worse, Ellison found himself behind Crutchlow and Karl Harris before the lap was out and was stuck trying to keep Tom Sykes behind him, the Suzuki rider having made excellent progress from 13th on the grid in the early laps.
Up at the front, Brands Hatch winner Crutchlow latched onto the back of Byrne and made his move at McLeans on lap six to take the lead, but was demoted straight back to second again when the championship leader retaliated four corners later at Melbourne.
With Byrne back in charge, Crutchlow slotted into second, ahead of Harris – up from tenth on the grid – Ellison, Sykes and the Suzuki rider's sparring partner, Haslam.
With the top six having pulled away, it took a safety car period to bunch them back together again when Luke Quigley's PDM Suzuki rather spectacularly caught fire underneath him out of the Fogarty Chicane.
On the restart, Byrne got away cleanly but he was now being tailed by Harris, who caught Crutchlow unawares into Redgate to move into second place. Elsewhere, there was additional movement with Leon Camier passing Haslam, only for the HM Plant Honda rider to get him back almost straight away.
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