Byrne tops times as BSB gets underway at Brands Hatch
Final test session one:
1: Graeme Gowland (Team WFR Honda) 46.192s
2: Alex Lowes (Team WFR Honda) +0.095s
3: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ) +0.163s
4: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.255s
5: Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +0.317s
6: Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.361s
Final test session two:
1: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 45.954s
2: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.164s
3: Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +0.166s
4: Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.170s
5: Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.282s
6: Ian Lowry (Padgetts Honda) +0.302s
Shane Byrne underlined his intention to kick this year’s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch with a winning performance as he scorched to the top of the final testing leaderboard at near lap record equalling pace.
The former two times winner of the country’s premier title is reunited with Cumbrian businessman Paul Bird’s team, riding in Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki colours, and Byrne put in a series of consistent lap around his home circuit which hosts the Easter Monday opening races.
Byrne’s best lap came in a time of 45.954secs towards the end of the afternoon session and he enthused: “It’s great to be back with Birdy and the boys. We have made good progress, made a few changes between session and the balance of the bike is better so now it’s time to get down to the proper action. I won my first ever race at Brands Hatch and it holds a lot of good memories for me so I intend to start where I left off last year and that’s by winning.”
Aussie Josh Brookes, riding for the Tyco Suzuki team, ran within 0.164secs off Byrne, but just a split second ahead of Michael Laverty riding for Samsung Honda and reigning champion Tommy Hill who worked hard across the day, steadily improving his lap times aboard the Swan Yamaha, ending with a best lap of 46.124secs in fourth. Like Byrne, Hill has good memories of the circuit, having sealed his title there, by just 0.006secs, in the final race of last season.
Hill explained: “We had a number of issues during the morning session but the team worked hard for me to get rid of the gremlins and now we are back where we should be and there is more to come.”
Graeme Gowland set the fifth best time of the day, and that despite a heavy tumble in the closing seconds of the morning session which severely damaged his WFR Honda. Gowland, who had topped the first session with a time of 46.192secs escaped with a bruising but was unable to take part in the second test as his team worked to repair his machine ready for free practice tomorrow.
Flying Scot Stuart Easton, making a racing return after injury on the second Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, was also in contention, lapping in 46.236secs ahead of Ian Lowry on the Padgetts Honda and WFR Honda’s Alex Lowes. Alistair Seeley, graduating into the top class after winning last year’s British Supersport crown, set the ninth fastest time on the day ahead of James Westmoreland on the third WFR Honda.
Former World Superbike contender Noriyuki Haga, riding the Indy circuit for the first time, ran 15th fastest on his Swan Yamaha, in a hectic session in which the top 18 riders ran within a second of Byrne’s pace.