Shakey comes out fighting at Snetterton with record pace in practice
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne delivered a reminder to his rivals that he intends to return to winning ways in the fourth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship and regain the lead in the title stakes at Snetterton this weekend (19/20/21 June).
The PBM Kawasaki rider upped the pace to run inside the lap record with a time of 1m 47.664s in the afternoon session to finally break the challenge of Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes as the pair went head-to-head in an intense battle for the top throughout the two opening sessions.
Byrne admits he has had a difficult start to the defence of his record fourth crown. He started the season carrying an injury and has only scored a single victory back in April, and crashed out at the previous round with Ryuichi Kiyonari. Shakey scored a double victory at the Norfolk circuit last season and now has his sights set on closing the eight points deficit to the current series leader James Ellison.
Ellison on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was third fastest and 0.566s adrift of Byrne at the top, but Be Wiser Kawasaki’s Chris Walker was also closing and the four times runner-up in the series held fourth position ahead of the second Milwaukee Yamaha of Broc Parkes.
Howie Mainwaring made his return to the top ten in sixth place after pushing ahead of Czech rider Jakub Smrz who held seventh position on the Lloyds British MotoRapido Ducati after pushing ahead of Stuart Easton and Jason O’Halloran on the leading Honda Racing Fireblade.
Bennetts Suzuki’s Christian Iddon completed a top ten featuring five different manufacturers and eight different teams, whilst Ryuichi Kiyonari dropped to eleventh after suffering a technical problem during the session with the Buildbase BMW that limited his track time, before getting back on the pace later in the session.
Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) – “Today has actually been difficult despite what the time sheets say! We had some problems this morning and the team worked hard to fix it, which they did. We then concentrated on the bike set-up and to be honest at the moment is not where I like or need to be. We tried a few bits and pieces and now as a team we will come up with a plan for tomorrow to get the job done. I know we are capable and we will work harder to make it feel better for qualifying. I think we are there or thereabouts and that the boys will find the solution.”
Josh Brookes – “The tricky thing is that the grip is level is down today compared to the test we had here so we have been riding around and trying to understand things. If we put the grip level back to where it was at the test, we would able to replicate what we did then. When he had more grip it kind of disguised any set-up problems but they have been highlighted today with the lower grip. We have not made any changes, rather gathering information from me and from the data.
“We did a long run in the second session and the lap times were consistent and the bike was fairly kind to the tyres. We have been kind of steady as the bike is in a good range so it is hard to move away from that. We have the idea to change the engine braking and to change the fork settings as the grip levels have uncovered some problems. The front wants to slide while basically the rear has more grip than the front. We need to work on that and hopefully we can get it equal then the bike will be better.”
Broc Parkes – “We have changed something a bit with the front fork that Josh tested that I didn’t get a chance to and basically went in a direction with the setting that we didn’t have time to at the test. That is something we had up our sleeve and fortunately it worked. I felt comfortable on the bike although it took me a bit of time to get back in the groove this morning after riding other bikes since the test, but I think in general that was good.
“I am feeling more comfortable with the laps we have done today and my pace is pretty good. To be six tenths from the top is close enough for now and I think on used tyres we have good pace and I could make passes. In the braking where I have struggled a bit this year I was confident and that is important and I feel much better.”
Luke Stapleford is gunning for glory in the fourth round of the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship to extend his slender one point lead in the title stakes over Kyle Ryde, but there was just 0.092s between them after two hectic free practice sessions.
Riding the locally prepared Profile Triumph, Stapleford set the pace in both sessions, in the afternoon, bettering the lap record by half a second, while Ryde, shadowing his performance in both sessions tipped off his PacedayZ Trackdays Yamaha in the final minute of the afternoon as he tried for a flying lap.
Sam Hornsey, riding the second Profile Triumph, briefly led the afternoon session, with his best lap leaving him third fastest on the leaderboard ahead of the Team Traction Control Yamaha duo of James Rispoli and Andy Reid, the latter crashing at Riches without injury.
Glenn Irwin, third fastest in the morning session on the Gearlink Kawasaki, was denied the opportunity of further improvement due to a machine issue that sidelined him for the session while Jake Dixon, third in the championship standings needs to find more pace, languishing back in tenth place, some two seconds down.
Joe Collier, the leader in Supersport EVO, was fastest in that class, and ninth overall on the Haribo Starmix Triumph.