It was a weekend of what might have been for the five time MCE British Superbike Champion as he looked to get his season kick started at his home circuit of Brands Hatch over Easter.
Ruled out of the opening round two weeks ago due to injury, ‘Shakey’ bounced back in style by topping Friday’s Official Test on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R and, following a strong qualifying session, the five-times champion started today’s opening race from row two of the grid.
From there, the local ace from Sittingbourne made steady progress through the field from seventh position in the early laps up to fourth in the latter stages where he was poised to challenge for a podium but in the end, he had to settle for fourth place to open his account for the season.
Starting the second race from the second row once more, Byrne made swifter progress up the order and by half race distance, was up to fourth and looking very strong. Third place and the final podium position became his at the beginning of lap 24 but as he entered Clearways, he lost the front end and crashed out without injury.
Speaking after a weekend of what might have been, Byrne said: “I’m looking at the weekend with the glass very much being half full as there are a lot of positives to take away.”
“It was a difficult weekend for sure and I’ve got to say the first race was really hard work as I was suffering a lot with wheelspin but the team turned things around and the bike I was riding in the second race was probably the best bike we’ve ever had in terms of set-up.”
“Conditions suited us and I was comfortable with the pace I was running and I felt it was only going to be a matter of time before I hit the front.”
“Once I got by Leon for third, I knew he’d be fighting back straightaway and so defended my line with a tighter line than normal going into Clearways.”
“Unfortunately, I caught the bumps and whilst I tried my utmost to save it I ended up upside down. That’s racing and whilst there’s still a long way to go, we need to start winning races and clawing back some of the podium credits.”
Pictures supplied by PSP Images.