Shane Byrne and the Be Wiser Ducati team will line up in pole position for tomorrow’s opening MCE British Superbike Championship race at Cadwell Park after unofficially breaking the lap record during today’s qualifying session meaning the 54th pole of the five-times champion’s career.
Riding the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R at round eight of the series, the 40-year-old Londoner was quick out of the traps, setting the fastest time during yesterday afternoon’s free practice session despite a fall at the bottom of the Mountain. He went quicker still this morning, dipping below the lap record which put him in confident mood going into this afternoon’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session.
The reigning champion comfortably topped the timesheets in Q1 and went four tenths of a second quicker around the 2.18-mile Lincolnshire venue in Q2. However, despite still searching for the ideal set-up, he saved the best until last and his lap of 1m 26.265s not only gave him pole position, it was also well inside Leon Haslam’s circuit lap record of 1m 26.590s.
Team-mate Glenn Irwin’s weekend started strongly when he posted the second fastest time in the opening practice session but he wasn’t able to get close to that time in the remaining sessions, subsequently ending up with the 11th fastest time heading into qualifying.
The Carrickfergus rider successfully made it through Q1 and although he went two-tenths of a second quicker in Q2, he missed out on advancing to Q3 with his time of 1m 27.307s meaning he’ll line up for the first 18-lap race in 16th and on the sixth row of the grid.
Shane Byrne: “I’m obviously happy with pole position and the front row – the latter is always our aim – but it’s been a bit of a frustrating weekend as the bike hasn’t worked like it did when we tested here a few weeks ago. Back then the bike was on rails and the lap times came fairly easy but it’s been the opposite this weekend and the bike’s felt totally different. We’ve been changing things all the time, even in the middle of qualifying, but it still feels like the bike’s controlling me rather than the other way round. The whole PBM team have been working really hard as always so we’ll do some more homework tonight and hopefully have two strong races tomorrow.”
Glenn Irwin: “I’m not quite where I want to be although we’re not a million miles off either. I’m OK for the majority of the circuit but on the left handers, I’m still struggling with my shoulder injury to be honest. Overall though, I’m feeling positive for tomorrow so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “Shakey’s been quick all weekend in the dry conditions and put together a great qualifying lap which we’re all really happy with. We’ve still a bit of work to do to make him more comfortable on the bike but we’ll be looking for a win or two tomorrow. Glenn’s been finding it more difficult with his injury and his shoulder still hasn’t recovered as much as he’d like. He’s feeling it more in his elbow here through the left handers so it’s disppointing for him to be in 16th. We’ll have to see how he gets on in the races tomorrow but it will be hard work over a full race distance. If he gets comfortable, hopefully he’ll get some points.”
1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m26.265
2 Peter Hickman (BMW) 1m26.346s
3 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki) 1m26.380s
4 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki) 1m26.458s
5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda) 1m26.475s
6 Lee Jackson (BMW) 1m26.499s
16 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m27.307s
Pictures attached (courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography): Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at Cadwell Park.