The Be Wiser Ducati duo of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwin will line up in first and third respectively on the grid for tomorrow’s opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race at Oulton Park after both riders excelled during this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Cheshire venue.
Indeed, Byrne’s lap of 1m 33.979s was half a second inside the lap record aboard the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R during Datatag Extreme Qualifying for round three for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team.
Having enjoyed a successful test day at the circuit last month, the duo were immediately on the pace in all three free practice sessions held with Irwin quickest overall on the timesheets with a time of 1m 34.312s – a tenth of a second inside the class lap record – and six-times and defending champion Byrne only 0.272s adrift in second.
This afternoon saw a continuation of perfect conditions at the 2.69-mile circuit with Carrickfergus rider Irwin recording the fourth quickest time in Q1 and Londoner Byrne the sixth fastest time, sending both riders comfortably through to Q2.
With an air temperature of 23 degrees, the pace quickened considerably in Q2, which was just 12 minutes in duration, and a lap from Byrne of 1m 34.152s put him at the top of the pile. However, with only nine riders making it into the final Q3 session, Irwin cut it fine as he just made it through in the final spot of ninth.
That just left the final eight-minute session and Byrne saved the best until last with his blistering lap of 1m 33.979s whilst Irwin was only 0.258s adrift in third to make it a great day for the locally-based team.
Shane Byrne: “We’ve worked really hard on our race performance this weekend, and also at the test a couple of weeks ago, but I was concerned our one lap pace would suffer as a consequence. As it turned out though, I managed to put in a really good lap time and we’re probably in better shape than we were here last year. The warm temperatures today meant there wasn’t much grip out there and the bike was moving around quite a lot so to do a 1m33.9s lap given the conditions was pleasing. Our race pace is very strong and the weather bodes well for us as the Be Wiser Ducati works well in the warmer temperatures and is kinder on the tyres. Two 18-lap races won’t be easy so I’ll be aiming to make a good start, settle into a rhythm and see what happens.”
Glenn Irwin: “I’m definitely pleased to be on the front row and all my times this weekend have been done on my own so I’m feeling pretty confident. No one was particularly quick on their out lap in Q3 so I was a little worried I’d lost too much heat from the tyres but I got the job done and it’s obviously good for the team to have both bikes on the front row at their local round. We’ve got good race pace and the boys fired me up today so roll on the two races.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s the best possible start to the weekend for the riders and the team and it’s a big meeting for us with Oulton Park being our local round. Both riders knuckled down at the test two weeks ago and did a lot of work on their race set-up and they’ve carried that over to this weekend. They’ve found a good set-up which allowed them to do a flying lap in qualifying but their race pace also looks very strong and the long runs have shown good longevity in the tyres. The two races aren’t going to be easy especially as Monday is forecast to be warmer but everyone adapts accordingly and we’ll be looking to end race day with some strong results under our belt.”
1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m33.979s
2 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki) 1m34.109s
3 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m34.237s
4 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki) 1m34.281s
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda) 1m34.404s
6 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki) 1m34.522s
There is live action on Eurosport, the free-to-air Quest channel and on the Eurosport player tomorrow with the Bennetts BSB races live at 13.30 and 16.30. For further information, please visit the team’s new and updated website, www.pbmuk.net and the official website of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship www.britishsuperbike.com.
Pictures (courtesy of Double Red Photographic): Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2).
Notes to Editors:
Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) are winners of over 180 races in British Superbike Championship, MotoGP CRT, World Superbike Championship, 125cc, 250cc, Supersport British Championships, Superstock National Championships, Isle of Man TT, North West 200, Daytona, Macau GP, and British domestic races. Points scorers in 125cc, 250cc and 500cc GPs. Points scorers in World Supersport, podium finishers in WSB, Superpole winners in World Superbike. They are based at Langwathby near Penrith in Cumbria.