By Philip Wain
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s grip on the 2016 MCE British Superbike Championship tightened ever so slightly at Brands Hatch over the weekend with the Be Wiser Ducati rider taking yet another double to move onto 74 career BSB wins. As per previous rounds though, he certainly didn’t have it easy and, on this occasion, it was poor starts in the two race that made him have to work extra hard for his victories.
Getting off the line this season has proven to be the Ducati Panigale’s Achilles heel and, devoid of the fancy electronics equipped on the World Superbike machines, Byrne has often seen his front row qualifying positions count for nothing. In both races at Brands, he dropped back on the opening lap, as low as 11th in race two, before gradually working his way through the pack and hitting the front in the closing stages.
As has often been the case this season, the best of the rest was Leon Haslam and although the JG Speefit Kawasaki’s winless streak goes on, a brace of second place finishes keeps him well in contention with Byrne. He too had his difficulties over the weekend and in free practice he again found himself outside the top ten. However, like all good riders, he found the right ingredients for race day and the battle between the two riders should run and run.
The Honda renaissance continued with Jason O’Halloran looking ever more secure in third place overall and, but for a disaster, he should seal his Showdown position sooner rather than later. He led for much of race two and looks assured in that position so another race win is very much on the cards for the Australian.
Behind these three, the battle rages for the final Showdown positions and just 17 points cover the riders in fourth to ninth positions and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll make the top six.
Michael Laverty was in great form at Thruxton but had a weekend to forget at Brands, ending the meeting with just two points whilst James Ellison and Dan Linfoot found themselves battling towards the bottom of the top ten. Luke Mossey and Richard Cooper had the strongest weekends though and are right in the mix but the same can’t be said for Tommy Bridewell. He showed great pace all weekend but his hopes of a top six position look to have vanished after his two DNFs.
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