Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne marginally edged out Josh Brookes in the final MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship test session of the day at Donington Park, with the pair eclipsing the series lap record of the Leicestershire circuit on the first UK test on the 17” Pirelli tyres.
Byrne and Brookes’ best time were both faster than last year’s MCE BSB pole position lap of the circuit with the pair swapping place at the top of the times until the chequered flag of the final session, as the title rivals bid to have the edge ahead of the Brands Hatch opener.
Byrne said: “It was a long session this afternoon and we did pretty much a full race distance and then had time to try one or two other things. I am really happy with the pace we have, running faster than we did in last year’s race here. To be back up at that level already is good and I was not out there to finish second! I am fully motivated for the season and can’t wait to get started now as we want that title back.”
Jakub Smrz and the Millsport Ducati team held third position after a strong start to their campaign with Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker locking out fourth place on the leading Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki, his team-mate James Ellison was tenth fastest.
James Westmoreland was the fastest of the BMW contenders ending the opening official test fifth fastest, with four different manufacturers featured in the top five.
Josh Waters and Mitchell Carr were 18th and 19th respectively in Superbike.
David Johnson was third quickest in Superstock 1000 while Levi Day’s 2014 season is also getting off to a promising start with the second fastest time in Superstock 600.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Donington Park official tests – Combined Classification
31 riders confirmed for MCE British Superbike opener at Brands Hatch
The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship has announced a superb entry of 31 riders representing eight nationalities for the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch this Easter weekend (18/19/20/21 April).
The definitive line-up, which includes 30 season-long entries and 21 individual teams representing six different manufacturers, was confirmed ahead of today’s (Tuesday) official test at Donington Park. The final place on the grid at Brands Hatch will be taken by wildcard and Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop.
Bathams BMW became the final team to announce their rider pairing yesterday (Monday), as they confirmed former title runner-up Michael Rutter and Swiss rider Patric Muff. They’ll be taking part in today’s group test at Donington, before all the teams head to Snetterton’s 300 circuit for a further two day official test next week (8/9 April), which is free of charge for spectators.
The 2014 season has seen the biggest shake-up of teams and rider combinations in years, yet the strength in depth is as impressive as ever – the Brands Hatch grid will feature nine MCE BSB race winners and two triple champions: Shane Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari. Byrne remains with Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki and the most successful rider in the championship history is desperate to claim an unprecedented fourth crown after narrowly missing out to Alex Lowes at the final round last year. The team have strengthened their line up with reigning Motorpoint British Supersport champion Stuart Easton, who has made a remarkable comeback from devastating injuries sustained at the North West 200 in 2011.
Ready to challenge Byrne is returning Californian mega star John Hopkins. The former MotoGP frontrunner was part of the closest MCE BSB title race in history in 2011 and lost out to Tommy Hill by just 0.006 seconds in the final race. He has unfinished business in the championship and is targetting the title with Tyco Suzuki. Former champions Milwaukee Yamaha meanwhile have secured the services of two-time MCE BSB runner-up Josh Brookes and upcoming Brit Tommy Bridewell, and both riders looked supremely quick during their pre-season test programme in Spain.
New and fresh line ups for 2014 include Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki, who have signed 2009 runner-up James Ellison and fans’ favourite Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker for their campaign, whilst triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari made a surprise move to the Buildbase BMW team during the winter, alongside Showdown contender James Westmoreland. Record-breaking TT race winner Ian Hutchinson is ready to prove his mettle on the short circuits with the new FFX Yamaha team, whilst Harry Hartley becomes the youngest ever MCE BSB contender at the age of just 17.
The championship’s television coverage will also be enhanced this season with the Eurosport Group extending their deal to the end of the 2020 season. The new agreement increases live coverage of the premier and support classes in the UK, which extends to Saturday’s qualifying sessions, which will see the MCE BSB Datatag Extreme qualifying and the Motorpoint British Supersport sprint race broadcast live and in HD. The championship will also continue to feature prominently free to air on ITV4, with an hour long highlights show every Wednesday evening post event.
Series Director Stuart Higgs said: “This season has the hallmarks of being one of the biggest and best in the championship’s history, featuring a permanent entry of 30 riders bolstered with wild card entries at certain events with TT race winner Michael Dunlop and also with World Endurance champion Julien Da Costa. The rider and team movement over the winter has really given a new vibe to the series with eleven new riders moving into the Superbike class and a further eleven riders changing teams ahead of the new season. The 2014 grid also features seven new teams which without doubt shows the continued growth of the championship which provides such compelling entertainment for trackside fans and a global television audience.”
This year’s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship will again comprise of 26 races across 12 rounds, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch on Easter weekend (18-21 April) and concluding on the majestic Grand Prix circuit at the same venue on 17-19 October.
2014 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship entry list:
3 – Josh Brookes – Australia – Milwaukee Yamaha
4 – Dan Linfoot – United Kingdom – Quattro Plant Kawasaki
5 – Stuart Easton – United Kingdom – Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
6 – Simon Andrews – United Kingdom – RAF Reserves Honda
7 – Barry Burrell – United Kingdom – Team WD-40 Kawasaki
8 – Ian Hutchinson – United Kingdom – FFX Yamaha
9 – Chris Walker – United Kingdom – Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki
10 – Jon Kirkham -United Kingdom – Tsingtao WK Kawasaki
11 – Michael Rutter – United Kingdom – Bathams BMW
12 – Josh Waters – Australia – Tyco Suzuki
15 – Ben Wilson – United Kingdom – Gearlink Kawasaki
20 – Jenny Tinmouth – United Kingdom – TWR Honda
21 – John Hopkins – USA – Tyco Suzuki
23 – Ryuichi Kiyonari – Japan – Buildbase BMW
24 – Patric Muff – Switzerland – Bathams BMW
27 – James Westmoreland – United Kingdom – Buildbase BMW
33 – Michael Dunlop* – United Kingdom – Buildbase BMW
35 – Mitchell Carr – Australia – Anvil Hire TAG Racing Kawasaki
39 -Lee Costello – United Kingdom – Halsall Racing Kawasaki
40 – Martin Jessopp – United Kingdom – RidersMotorcycles BMW
43 – Howie Mainwaring – United Kingdom – Quattro Plant Kawasaki
45 – Rhalf Lo Turco -Brazil -SBK City Racing Kawasaki
46 – Tommy Bridewell – United Kingdom – Milwaukee Yamaha
47 – Richard Cooper – United Kingdom – Anvil Hire TAG Racing Kawasaki
50 – Harry Hartley – United Kingdom – Halsall Racing Kawasaki
55 – Peter Baker – United Kingdom – Morello Services PBR Kawasaki
64 – Aaron Zanotti – United Kingdom – GGH/STEL Suzuki
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