BSB: Rider of the Year: First

Published: 30 December 2016

MCN’s Sports Desk rank the five riders who have impressed them most in the MCE British Superbike Championship during the 2017 season.

Number 1 – Shane Byrne

Best result: 1st
Wins: 9
Podiums: 16
Championship position: 1st

In the end, it would be Shane Byrne who triumphed in this year’s action-packed MCE British Superbike Championship and I don’t think anyone can argue he wasn’t a deserving champion.

I recall seeing the frustrated faces in the PBM garage as Shakey spent more time in the gravel than on track during a test at Cartagena and things didn’t get much easier at the start of the season.

Byrne had a number of impressive rides this year but none more so than the two second places he took at Silverstone, especially in race two when he came within inches of beating Peter Hickman to win first time out. While the results were good, Byrne’s feeling on the bike was less so. It was aggressive and he struggled to keep it under control.

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One of their biggest problems was that they couldn’t find a base setting, so at every track they’d go to they’d have to start from scratch. Once they found this, in a test at Snetterton, Byrne and the Panigale gelled and didn’t look back from there.

While he threatened to dominate, rival Leon Haslam pushed him hard all the way and a troublesome end to the main season at Oulton Park for Byrne saw the two neck and neck ahead of the Showdown.

Beating Haslam at Cadwell and Donington, two of the Kawasaki man’s strongest circuits, was key to Byrne’s success.

His title was Ducati’s first since 2008 while his first victory on the Panigale R not only marked the first win for that iteration of Ducati, but the Italian marque’s first BSB win in six years.  

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