Shane Byrne takes Snetterton pole ahead of Jason O’Halloran
Shane “Shakey” Byrne proved the master of the changeable conditions at Snetterton to take his first pole start of the season ahead of the opening race of the fourth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
The four times winner of the crown timed his run to perfection in an Extreme Qualifying session that had been packed with drama with early crashes for Dan Linfoot and then Jakub Smrz before the conditions began to change throughout the three-stage knockout.
Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) – Pole position for Snetterton race one – “It was a tricky qualifying session and in all honesty I was watching the session at the start and it was obvious that everyone was going to have a go at the end. I saw the two Honda guys go out with new tyres and Jason (O’Halloran) had his knee down going through Agostini so I knew it was not as wet as we had thought!
“I said to the team, put a new tyre in and I went out and put in two or three laps, which was enough to take P1 but then they were catching up but I stayed out and crossed the line with about five seconds to spare and nailed it as it was as dry as it was going to be. I went a lot faster and I am delighted to take pole. The races will be hard work – it has been a strange weekend and the bike has thrown in a few spanners in the works and was different to how it was at the test here, but the team have done a great job for me as usual.”
Series leader James Ellison was quickly out as the action resumed for Q2, before he crashed out at Riches and despite walking away there was too much damage to his JG Speedfit Kawasaki to return to the track in the final top ten shootout in Q3 and he will start tenth on the grid.
As the final session got underway Jason O’Halloran took the initial advantage on the Honda Racing Fireblade, before Stuart Easton moved to the top of the times. The conditions continued to improve towards the closing stages and O’Halloran had moved back to the top of the times. However Byrne headed back out on track and a determined performance put him at the top to push the Honda Racing pairing into second and third on the grid.
The Honda Racing surge pushed Australian Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha onto the second row along with the Tyco BMW duo of Tommy Bridewell and Michael Laverty. Easton, Luke Mossey aboard the Quattro Plant Tec-care Kawasaki and Josh Waters on the Bennetts Suzuki start from the third row.
Brookes had lapped at record pace throughout the free practice sessions and as the conditions changed and the rain began to fall towards the end of qualifying, he headed out on track to post a time that would put him fourth fastest and just 0.160s adrift of the front row.
Josh Brookes – “The difficult qualifying session ruined my rhythm a little bit this afternoon. If we have over thirty degree track temperature we know that we have a set-up that works but with the track temperature being low I was not getting the grip that I was looking for and had at the test.
“We are trying other things to see if we can make the bike work better in cooler conditions and these changes haven’t all come together just yet. If you look at my times throughout the day we can do 1min 47 laps on lap 10 rather than just a single quick lap so we should be stronger for the race. I am feeling confident that we can pick people off in the race tomorrow and have a good result.”
Parkes had a bitter blow in qualifying after running inside the top five throughout the earlier sessions when he pitted after his initial lap following a minor problem. However as he returned to pitlane the rain began to fall and destroyed any chance of a faster lap and he will start 19th on the grid for the first race.
Broc Parkes – “We have had the seat set higher recently and as my bad luck seemed to continue this afternoon, the foam slid off so I came back in to get it sorted and was unlucky to be caught out by the conditions changing before I could get a lap in. The plan now is to stay out of trouble in the first race and get a good result and then fight on again in race two. We have shown that we have the speed and it is all about performance on raceday. This year so far I have had more than my share of bad luck so I am hoping we have our share of good luck tomorrow.”
Datatag Extreme Qualifying
1: Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) 1m:48.376s
2: Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +1.093s
3: Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +1.340s
4: Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +1.500s
5: Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) +1.735s
6: Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +1.877s