Fires, crashes and some Shakey magic as Snetterton and the British Superbikes deliver again
- Credit: Tim Keeton/Impact Images
Shane Byrne was the man to beat heading to Snetterton and he underlined his position after round five of the British Superbikes Championship – but don't be fooled. The battle from here on in should be something special.
Byrne added a race two victory to third in Saturday's opener on a glorious summer's weekend in Norfolk, making it seven wins from nine races this term. But as he bids for a record fourth BSB title, his main rivals were never far behind.
Alex Lowes converted two poles into one top-step finish, while Josh Brookes – surprisingly still without a victory of his own in 2013 – completed the podium on both occasions. As they do the top three of the championship standings heading to Brands Hatch in a fortnight.
And while Byrne cut an angry figure after race one, which was mostly aimed at his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team, no one was wiping the smile from his face once Norfolk business was complete.
'I thought we were coming to a bunch of tracks that really suited me – I was really looking forward to Snetterton – we really struggled this weekend,' said Byrne, who still translated struggling into a first Kawasaki winner at Snetterton since 1997 and his record-breaking 48th BSB career win.
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'The first race the bike was absolutely dreadful. You come here to race, not to ride round and try to avoid collecting flies on the front of the thing. And that's what it felt like, as if we were just dicking about trying to catch the front two.
'But the team worked really hard for between the two races and the second one I just felt a lot more confident to push and make it go where I wanted it to go.
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'Talk about a contrast in races. After the first race I could've killed my team and after the second race I could've married them.
'It's been a really difficult weekend and I've given them a lot of stick so I'd like to dedicate that second win to them and hopefully we'll grab a few more at Brands.'
Bumper Snetterton crowds glistened in the heat, while the bikes found it tougher going right from the off.
Brookes's Tyco Suzuki had already endured a warm-up highside on his final lap to lead into race one's first corner before race one kicked off, but it was also Brookes who flew at lights out as he left Samsung Honda Lowes' pole from Saturday qualifying redundant.
But after a short safety car ceasefire following the mechanical failure of Tommy Bridewell's Bathams Honda, Lowes turned it on.
The 22-year-old recaptured second from 'Shakey' Byrne at the Montreal hairpin on lap five and two corners later was dashing down the inside of Brookes at Agostini to secure a lead that would take him to his fourth BSB career victory.
Byrne gave Brookes a drag race for the line, but lost out on second by just 0.043 seconds.
Brookes' team-mate PJ Jacobsen was set for his best BSB finish in sixth, only to spill on the penultimate lap at Corum and find himself skidding back across the track at the bottom of the start-finish straight. Somehow he avoided a pose of bikes, while his bike narrowly missed collecting James Westmoreland's Buildbase BMW.
Race two saw the battle between Lowes, Byrne and Brookes recommence but once again, Lowes start was sloppy and this time Brookes lost his way with five laps to go. He salvaged third, while Lowes recovered to push Byrne to the line.
But the luckiest guys were Robbin Harms Jon Kirkham, whose first lap clash left Kirkham lying on track and Harms' Doodson Honda pirouetting in the air behind catching fire.
Fortunately, all walked away from the incident and it was the racing that would be remembered from another superb Snetterton BSB weekend. Even for Shakey.