Monday, October 13, 2008

BSB: Shakey Doubles at Brands

With the British Superbike title sewn up, Shane Byrne was able to relax for the final round of the year at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, taking a magnificent double victory. Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow tied up second and third places in the championship. Michael Rutter made history with his 300th superbike race start, and ran the number 300 for the weekend to celebrate, while Karl Harris was forced to withdraw and was replaced by John Kirkham.

Race 1
The riders were held for a long time on the grid when one of the back row starters stalled, but when the lights finally went out, Cal Crutchlow made the best start to lead into Paddock Hill bend on his HM Plant Honda, with the rest of the pack managing to miss each other and slot in behind. Airwaves Ducati's Shane Byrne also started well, as did James Ellison, running higher on the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda than he has done for most of the year. Crutchlow's team-mate Leon Haslam was in fourth place, riding injured after a dopey-looking crash in qualifying when he looked over his shoulder and immediately highsided into a gravel trap, dislocating his collar bone. Byrne's team-mate Leon Camier was in fifth, while the long wait on the grid had caused Tom Sykes to damage the clutch of his Rizla Suzuki and make a poor start, running in sixth.

Coming into Druids for the second time, Shane Byrne was able to take a wide, swooping line on his Ducati to pass Crutchlow for the lead. After that, the top six pretty much held station until the end of the 30-lap race. The gaps opened and closed, but nobody managed to pass anyone else. Seventh placed Michael Laverty on the Relentless Suzuki was closing in on Sykes, but he dropped back and eventually retired with a technical problem. This promoted NW200 Ducati veteran Michael Rutter to eighth. Gary Mason was the leading privateer on the Quay Garage Honda.

It had been Shakey Byrne's first win for months, having had to carefully nurse his championship lead for the last few rounds. He celebrated with a Valentino Rossi style sidesaddle wheelie and a rolling burnout.

Read my full report, including the much more exciting race 2, of the second Brands Hatch round of the British Superbikes at Motorbikesport.

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