Byrne recovers to pip Brookes
The Showdown spots were finalised in the final race of the day at Oulton Park but the crowd was treated to seeing the two title favourites duke it in the 18 lap race. Ultimately four times champion Shane Byrne took the flag by just three tenths from Josh Brookes with Tommy Bridewell third fastest after a strong ride.
A mid-race safety car gave Byrne his chance to pounce on Brookes and the PBM rider shot down the inside but ran in too deep and fell down the order. It looked as though his chances of the win were lost but he fought back to the front.
"I was watching Josh and wanted to make a move after the Safety car, but Josh left it quite late to go and I had a good run on him so I went for a lunge on him," said Byrne. "I can’t tell you what I thought as I went straight on and unfortunately everyone was buzzing passed me! I got my head down and put some harsh moves on the others as I knew I had no time to waste to get back to Josh. It was now or never so I went for the move and led the rest of the lap and fortunately held him off."
This was one of the rare times this year that the title protagonists had fought each other on track and with an engine failure having robbed Byrne of the chance of a race two win it was important for both heading into the Showdown to have an ontrack skirmish. The honours were shared on the day between them and afterwards Brookes said that a lack of grip was what held him back from being able to defend from Shakey in the closing laps of race three.
“I felt quite comfortable in the race today but I was struggling at the end with grip," said the Australian. "It is difficult to accept to lose it in the final race. I had put my head down and did everything I could and we were running a good pace. I rode as hard as I could but Shakey could do more."
Bridewell's podium capped off a strong day for the Tyco BMW rider who had highsided spectacularly out of podium contention in race two.
The Showdown spots saw the race three podium men joined by James Ellison, Dan Linfoot and Michael Laverty who will fight out for the title honours over the remaining three rounds of the championship.