Byrne finishes on a high
Shane Byrne refused to relax at the last round of the British Superbike championship, winning both races at Donington Park despite having already secured the 2003 championship.
The Monstermob Ducati rider qualified on pole and spent most of both races defending his lead from Sean Emmett and John Reynolds.
He almost ruined his first race with a jump-start but he caught it in time and officials let him off without a penalty. Rizla Suzuki rider Reynolds got the hole shot but had lost his lead to Byrne and Renegade’s Michael Rutter after only a few corners. ETI Ducati’s Sean Emmett following through not long after.
Emmett then went on to pass Rutter and pull out a lead with Byrne. The two riders fighting it out all the way to the finish often so close that they traded paint several times. Emmett was pushing so hard he had ground away both sides of the fairing on his Ducati 998.
Reynolds eventually found his way passed Rutter on lap 11 after a brief excursion on to the grass and went on to catch the two Ducatis. He briefly managed to take second from Emmett, but had to settle for third as the pair slogged it out.
Rutter eventually finished in fourth, ten seconds down on Byrne, followed by the Hawk Kawasakis of Glen Richards and Scott Smart.
Former champ Niall Mckenzie, who had come out of retirement to fill in for the injured Rizla Suzuki rider Yukio Kagayama, struggled to keep up with the pace, retiring the second time his bike left the track.
The second race saw Byrne in the lead again but this time it was Reynolds on his tail. The two riders looked pretty evenly matched throughout most of the 20 laps but Reynolds was just starting to get the upper hand when they hit the back markers. Byrne took advantage of the obstacle course they provided to draw away.
Every time they hit a slower bike Byrne would get past and draw out a lead only for Reynolds to pull him back in. But a bunch of back markers on the last lap proved to be too much for Reynolds and he had to settle for a well-earned second place.
Third place went to Sean Emmett who crossed the line five seconds down on Byrne but Michael Rutter was close on his heals just 0.4 seconds behind. Rutter’s team-mate Leon Haslam took fifth followed by Glen Richards, Gary Mason, John Kirkham and Mark Heckles.
Niall Mckenzie finished a disappointing weekend with a retirement from the second race as well, but looked happy enough watching the remainder of the race from the pit wall.
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