Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) wins his 5th British Superbike Championship
Unprecedented 5th British Superbike title for Shane Byrne First British Superbike Championship win for the Ducati Panigale Glenn Irwin back on the podium in his rookie season
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne secured the 2016 British Superbike title at Brands Hatch beating his nearest rival, Leon Haslam with a race to spare. It was a record breaking fifth title for the Be Wiser Ducati rider and Ducati’s first British Superbike Championship win since 2008.
The weather was to be a dominant factor throughout the weekend with conditions often treacherous as the cold and wet October weather lashed the Brands Hatch circuit. It was however a broken handlebar that was to be one of the turning points of the weekend. Leon Haslam was on track for Q2 when a broken handlebar meant the Kawasaki rider had no choice but to lay down his bike to prevent a serious incident. Despite the rider being unhurt, Haslam was unable to complete Q2 and had to start from 17th on the grid.
Shakey had got off the line well as the lights went out and was soon in 2nd place. But a collision between Filip Backlund and Howie Mainwaring-Smart at Hawthorn Bend brought the Red Flag out just as the riders were starting their 4th lap. The race was restarted only for the Red Flag to come out again just two laps later due wet sections of the track and more rain forecast.
After a long delay the race finally restarted for the third time, only for title contender Haslam to crash out on the first lap whilst running in an impressive 2nd place after climbing his way up from 17th. At 1/3 race distance Shakey was in 8th having just been passed by his teammate Glenn Irwin, before a crash by race leader James Ellison saw the safety car come out.
As the safety car came in Richard Cooper immediately lost the back of his bike, crashing out of 4th and promoting Irwin 5th and Shakey to 6th, the position he would eventually cross the finish line in. Irwin went on to claim 3rd, the 2nd podium of the season for the superbike rookie.
Byrne continued to stay in touch with his title rival towards the end of the race as Haslam tried to gain enough places to take the title fight into the final race. However despite the Kawasaki rider moving into 5th he was unable to gain further positions ahead of Shakey in 6th and they crossed the line with only 0.091 seconds between them. But more importantly the 26 points between them was enough to ensure Shakey would be crowned the 2016 British Superbike Champion for the fifth time. Shakey’s teammate Irwin followed him home to finish in 7th.
A quarter of the way through the race James Rispoli’s Yamaha blew its engine, spreading oil at Hawthorn Bend, the fastest corner on Brands Hatch GP circuit and one favoured by Shakey for passing riders on his Panigale.
There was a long delay as the track contamination was cleaned and when the race was eventually restarted it was to be a 10-lap dash to the finish with Shakey starting from 10th on the grid with race direction stating no overtaking around Hawthorn Bend due to the damp conditions,
On lap 4 Shakey passed Dan Linfoot for 5th, posting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:25.516, half a second faster than anyone else on track at the time. From there Shakey made a move into Surtees to take 4th from Christian Iddon and then went on to chase down the leading trio of James Ellison, John Hopkins and Leon Haslam.
In the final dramatic laps Shakey got the better of his main rival Haslam to take the last podium place behind Ellison and Hopkins, wrapping up his championship winning year in style.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne
“I am really proud of what we have done. We have turned a bike that has not won in the last few years into a bike that has won 9 races and the title first time out, so I know we are only going to get stronger. I am keen to sign a new deal with the team and Paul Bird who has been such an influence on my career and even a multi- deal as there is no other team I would rather be with. I am really, really happy with the bike, it’s a fantastic piece of machinery and when you can ride the bike at 99.9% it is incredible. It’s so smooth but when it is not right it can be tricky because it is an out and out race bike so it’s taken us a while to get our head a round things. A massive thanks to Be Wiser, Ducati and Paul Bird and looking forward to the party tonight.”
“It was really cool coming up to the line and see Shakey’s board say 2016 P1. He’s ridden like a champion all year. Congratulations to the whole Be Wiser Ducati Team. The bikes are brand new to everyone in here apart from Giovanni but for Shakey to be the 5 time BSB Champion and me to pick up podiums in my rookie season… it’s a great, great testament.”