Round eight of the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship took place at a packed Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire this weekend and saw a mixture of emotions for Be Wiser Ducati rider Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne who took a podium in the opening race only to be denied a victory in race two due to a technical problem.
The five-times and defending champion from Sittingbourne started the opening 18-lap race from pole position on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R and was running in second place when at Mansfield Corner on the second lap, he lost the front end and almost crashed, somehow saving the bike with his elbow. He only lost a couple of places but for the remainder of the race it was extremely close as less than two seconds covered the top eight riders.
Series leader Shakey found himself vying for a podium place for much of the race as he battled with Leon Haslam, Jake Dixon and Jason O’Halloran, but on lap 15 Byrne made the pass stick and although he tried to mount an attack for the victory, he had to settle for third position at the chequered flag.
Race two saw Byrne start from the front row once more and he soon slotted into third at the end of lap one. Once again, there was little to choose between the leading group of riders but, after moving up to second on lap nine, he grabbed the lead two laps later. Shakey then started to pull clear of the pursuing pack but on lap 13, he suffered a technical problem with the gear linkage and had to pull off the circuit at Mansfield.
Despite the set-back, Byrne still leads the series going into the triple-header at Silverstone whereby he remains favourite to clinch one of the six Showdown places to be decided at the Northamptonshire track in three weeks’ time.
Team-mate Glenn Irwin was still suffering with the arm and shoulder injuries sustained at Knockhill a couple of months ago and on the tight and twisty undulations of Cadwell Park, it again proved difficult.
A difficult Datatag Extreme qualifying session yesterday meant the Carrickfergus rider had to start the first race from the sixth row of the grid but despite his handicap, he bravely battled through the 18-lap race to record 11th place at the finish to score five solid points.
Starting race two from row four, once again Irwin battled as hard as he could and aided by a small amount of attrition, including, sadly, his team-mate, he ended up in ninth place at the flag to record his best finish since being injured back in June, a result which constituted good progress for all the hard work he has put in.
Shane Byrne: “The first race was hard work but we made a change to the front end in morning warm-up which helped, although I almost crashed at Mansfield on the second lap. I somehow managed to save it with my elbow and it served as a little warning so I was happy to sneak a podium. All of the bikes were fairly equal so we tried to improve again for race two but coming out of the Gooseneck, the bike wouldn’t select a gear so I had to pull off. Obviously, it’s a massive shame and frustrating and it’s easy to be down and negative after giving away what I feel is a lot of points at the last two rounds but our time will come and we’ll see what we can do to improve for the final four rounds.”
Glenn Irwin: “Coming into this weekend, I knew my shoulder was stronger but it’s not the out and out strength that’s the issue, it’s nerve damage in my triceps. If you go into a corner and your brain tells your arm to do whatever your body does, mine doesn’t do it. Qualifying was tough and I knew managing the tyres in the races would be critical. It’s something I think I’m quite good at and I always ride the races smoother and that in turn uses less energy. I can’t be as aggressive as I’d like and that was frustrating in the second race as I definitely felt like I could get in the top five. It was hard to make any kind of pass but we’ve come away with two half decent results and to only finish ten seconds off the podium in my condition is no bad thing.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “It hasn’t been the Sunday we wanted. Shakey had a good ride in the first race after being lucky to stay on when it looked like he was off, but recovered well and although he didn’t quite have the pace to fight for the win, a podium was good. He got the lead in the second race and everything was looking good but, unfortunately, we had a technical issue so we need to look into what happened and what went wrong. As for Glenn, he had two good races and did better than he was expecting considering the problems he’s been having with his shoulder and elbow. We’re pleased he got some decent results in both races and able to challenge some of the riders fighting for a top six place in the championship.”
MCE British Superbike Championship race one (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
3 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
4 Peter Hickman (BMW)
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
6 Lee Jackson (Racing BMW)
11 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
MCE British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 James Ellison (Yamaha)
2 Lee Jackson (BMW)
3 Peter Hickman (BMW)
4 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
5 Christian Iddon (BMW)
6 Tommy Bridewell (Kawasaki
9 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
DNF Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship standings (after eight rounds)
1 Byrne 219pts
2 Haslam 209
3 Hickman 193
4 O’Halloran 178
5 Brookes 167
6 Mossey 161
11 Irwin 82
Pictures attached (courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography) Shane Byrne on the podium and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at Cadwell Park.