BSB: Byrne: "I didn't expect to be champion"
Shane Byrne has said his 2017 MCE British Superbike title victory feels so special as he didn’t expect to be champion heading in to the final round at Brands Hatch.
The Be Wiser Ducati star was 33-points behind rival Leon Haslam ahead of this weekend’s decisive Showdown but with two dominant wins in the opening two races, he reduced the gap to just two points ahead of the final race of the year.
It was shaping up to be an epic between the pair, until a brake failure for Haslam saw him jump off his JG Speedfit Kawasaki at 172mph.
This meant all Byrne had to do was finish, and that he did, crossing the line in eighth place to take a historic sixth MCE British Superbike crown.
“I don’t really know how I feel to be honest because I came here thinking I’m 33 points behind Leon and he’s such a tough competitor that I never envisaged being able to pull back 33 points, but what I did envisage was coming here to do the best job I possibly could this weekend and try and win three races,” Byrne said.
“That’s never a given in BSB because it’s really, really difficult to win, but after we won the first race and pulled back some points and then there was only two points between us and I had a bit of a game plan for the final race of the day and that was to keep an eye on my pit board to see where Leon was and basically remain a place or two in front of him.
“I sat there quite content, trying not to use to much tyre and following him around making sure nobody was going past me, and then as we went down into Hawthorns Leon didn’t get on the brakes or whatever happened and jumped off his bike and it really threw me, I’m not going to lie. I spent a couple of laps afterwards thinking “hold on a minute, we are supposed to be fighting for a championship, we can’t fight for a championship if you’re in there”.
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“I’m gutted for him, I genuinely mean that because he’s been a really tough competitor last year and this year, and for him to come here with 33 points lead and leading the championship seems a bitter pill to swallow.
“I hadn’t actually won a race since we were here in July and that never happens. BSB is so tough right now that it’s really, really difficult to win. We’ve ended up champions so I’m super, super happy to have defended the title. That’s the one thing I wanted to do and we’ve got that done now so it’s going to be a nice winter.”