Local hero Shane “Shakey” Byrne saved his best until last at Brands Hatch today to score pole position for the sixth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship having out-gunned the pretender to his crown, Alex Lowes.
Byrne has won each of his last seven races on the Grand Prix circuit and is aiming to become the first rider in the championship to reach 50 victories tomorrow in front of his home crowd but Lowes pushed him all the way in the final qualifying session.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Byrne said: “I love this circuit and the crowd here and to take pole was a great result for me. I need two good results tomorrow and if I can make that a double and move to 50 wins then that would be fantastic but there are lot of guys out there who will be pushing hard in the races. If we work hard again in warm up tomorrow then fingers crossed we can be up there at the front at the end of the day.”
Lowes will be aiming to spoil the party for Byrne, having run only 0.123s down to start alongside him at the front of the grid with his Samsung Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari continuing his recent upturn in fortune to set the fourth best time. The triple champion was narrowly edged out for third by Aussie Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki, who is chasing a first win of the season.
Milwaukee Yamaha rider James Ellison heads the second row ahead of James Westmoreland on the Buildbase BMW, Chris Walker aboard the Quattro Plant Kawasaki and PJ Jacobsen on the second Tyco Suzuki, who overcame technical issues on his debut on the Grand Prix circuit.
Datatag Extreme Qualifying:
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 1m:25.672s
2. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.123s
3. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.169s
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda)+0.284s
5. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.327s
6. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +0.370s