Double delight for Be Wiser Ducati with a win for Byrne and podium for Irwin
Shane Byrne breaks lap record in qualifying Byrne wins race 1 Glenn Irwin takes first ever Superbike podium with 3rd place
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s rivals had no answer to the Be Wiser Ducati rider’s dominance during qualifying at Thruxton. Byrne was fastest throughout every practice and qualifying session, breaking the lap record in the process. Race day Saturday was to prove no different as the man from Kent increased his championship lead with a stunning race one before the perfect weekend was slightly spoilt by a retirement in race 2 on Sunday. However the disappointment of Shakey’s DNF was tempered by a fantastic ride by teammate Glenn Irwin who picked up his first ever podium in the Superbike class.
It was an initially a frustrating race 1 for Byrne as he had a 5 second lead by half distance before a red flag meant a restart for a 12 lap race. For teammate Glenn Irwin it was a better outcome as he was able to start from 14th position rather than his previous 24th place. Danny Buchan (Lloyds British Moto Rapido) was unaffected, starting in the same position as before.
It was Laverty who took lead into turn 1 but was hounded by Byrne who knew that the sooner he got in front the sooner he could make a break from the pack. By the end of lap 2 Byrne was leading and was able to keep a sizeable gap for the remainder of the race, winning by 3 seconds. Further back in the pack Be Wiser Ducati teammate Glenn Irwin was storming up the field and up to sixth at one point before giving way to Ellison, Cooper and Kiyonari to finish in a brilliant 9th.
For Danny Buchan it was a race to forget as he returned to the pits with tyre problems after failing to improve on his grid position.
Shakey Byrne was again on pole for race 2, with Irwin reaping the rewards of his race 1 pace with a third row start in 8th. Lloyds British rider Danny Buchan’s disappointing race 2 result was reflected in a 9th row start.
Much cooler conditions greeted the riders for race 2 with a threat of rain in the air, leading to a lengthy delay to the start as the grid waited for dark clouds and light rain to blow over. Race duration was reduced to 18 laps.
This did not distract Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne from putting in a great start to the race. O’Halloran lead into the first corner but an audacious move from Byrne put him into the lead and was soon to open up a 0.7 second lead. However disaster was to strike when problems with the gear linkage on his Panigale meant that the Be Wiser Ducati was forced to retire.
Meanwhile despite Irwin dropping back from 8th to 14th early on in the race he was back in the thick of the action battling it out with the BMW of Jackson and the Suzuki of Bridewell. On lap 12, Irwin moved in front of both of them to take 6th place with McConnell in his sights. Sadly the same lap saw the demise of Danny Buchan who retired for a successive race while in 26th. Irwin dropped back momentarily to 8th but was soon carving his way through the field to move into fourth. As the sole Ducati rider on track Irwin was now on a charge and riding brilliantly, passing Haslam as his Panigale bucked and weaved below him, carrying the Northern Irish rider to his first ever Superbike podium position.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne - Be Wiser Ducati
“There’s so many positives that have come from the weekend, it’s been unbelievable. The thing that’s made me the most happy is that we’ve taken the bike from Snetterton, changed it very little and brought it here and on my out lap it was obvious that it was a really strong package. The team have done a great job over the weekend. We’ve had a far stronger pace than everyone else. Sitting here after a piece of metal snaps [gearshift rod] and seeing the boys doing 1:16s all race long thinking I can do low 15s and win the race and what could’ve been. But ‘what could’ve been’ is irrelevant. The bottom line is that we’ve had that pace. Thruxton is a bit of a unique circuit that I really enjoy but we need to take all the positives that we’ve learnt from this weekend into Brands Hatch and the coming races and make sure that we get a double win at some point this year.”
Glenn Irwin - Be Wiser Ducati
“The team did a really good job after qualifying, we made some changes to the bike which we needed as the in qualifying crash had left me in 24th on the grid and I wasn’t so hopeful. For race 1 the team did a really good job but that restart really went against us and I destroyed the tyre and was really wobbling around and finished 11th. In the second race I was trying to conserve the tyre and maybe I could have gone a bit earlier and got the 2nd or first. This is my first podium so it’s not about what we could have done today, so it’s a real credit the Be Wiser Ducati team because we were off the pace earlier in the season. The Ducati is not just an iconic and trick looking motorcycle it is also extremely fast and I couldn’t be racing for a better team.”