After another epic season of racing, MCN’s sports team of Michael Guy (Sports Editor), Simon Patterson (MotoGP Reporter) and Oli Rushby (Superbike Reporter) sat down to discuss who impressed them the most in each race series we cover to establish MCN’s top five riders in each category.
And with this year’s BSB championship closer than ever, it wasn’t an easy call to decide who deserved what spot in our top five riders of the year in the class. Here’s what we think - but feel free to disagree with us in the comments!
1st: Shane Byrne
It wasn’t a particularly great season for the most successful rider in British Superbike history. Three non-scores from the first six races, a number of technical issues mid-season and some inexplicable disappointing results left Shane Byrne 33 points behind series leader Leon Haslam going into the final round at Brands Hatch.
For that reason, our rider of the year was a difficult decision with Haslam coming close to pipping Byrne to the top spot.
However, the way in which he pulled it back made for one of the most impressive racing turnarounds in the recent day. Knowing that whatever he did the title was out of his control, Byrne did exactly what he needed to and obliterated the opposition in the final round.
Within just two races he’d whittled down Haslam’s lead from 33 points to just two, meaning it was all on for the final race of the year. Fans were robbed of a titanic battle between BSB’s best when Haslam crashed out with brake failure, but there were incredibly emotional scenes on the grid when injured Haslam returned to congratulate Byrne.
Until 2017, Byrne’s titles had come in a somewhat dominant fashion. When he’s on form (as he was at Brands Hatch) he’s pretty much unbeatable, but the six-time champion has faltered in the past when things haven’t gone to plan.
It might have been a tough year for Byrne, but ultimately, he finished on the podium more than any of his rivals and won more races and that’s what crowned him champion. This year he showed that he can fight on through tough times, and with that came what he’s called his most rewarding title yet.
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