Brands Hatch BSB: Byrne controls two-part race for opening win
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne has got his 2014 season off to a flying start, taking the win in the opening MCE British Superbike race of 2014 from veteran Chris Walker and his GBmoto Kawasaki teammate James Ellison.
The race was a two-part affair, with Walker leading from Byrne after 18 laps when the red flags went out after James Hillier’s exploding Quattro Plant Kawasaki laid down oil on the start-finish straight.
Walker had led for most of the 18 laps, dicing with Josh Brookes until the Milwaukee Yamaha rider made a mistake and crashed out. Walker then managed to maintain his lead, but Byrne, making a break from the pack, was closing him down.
In the restart, with Byrne leaving the line from second rather than 13th, he was soon able to take the lead and clear off at the front, leaving Walker to hold off the advances of teammate Ellison.
Fourth was an excellent debut in the BSB class for Gearlink Kawasaki, with Ben Wilson holding off John Hopkins on his first race in 18 months.
Byrne said: "Yesterday was difficult but today we knew we had the pace in the dry. We knew I had my work cut out a little bit with our qualifying position, but it's the first race of a really, really long championship so I got my head down. I got a decent enough start and started picking people off; I just desperately didn't want to rush anything and make a silly mistake. I got up to second eventually and upped my own rhythm a little bit and there was quite a lot of laps to go, maybe 19 or 20 laps and I could see that Chris was away at the front. I got to Chris and then the race got red-flagged. The restart made it a little bit easier. I knew Chris would be really fast in the beginning, so I tried to get in the lead as quick as possible and just stay clean and tidy. It's a shame Josh (Brookes) wasn't there because I'm sure he'll throw a completely different element into the mix in race two, we'll see where we go from there."