BSB Knockhill roundup: Byrne the man to beat, bogie round for Lowes and has Kiyo ‘returned’?

Reigning British Superbike champion, Shane Byrne dominated race day at Knockhill this weekend, taking the win in both races ahead of Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes and Samsung Honda rider, Ryuichi Kiyonari.

War for four back on?

Photo: MCE British Superbikes 

After waiting patiently behind Brookes for the majority of the first race, Byrne began to try and make it past the Australian in the final turn with five laps to go. After running wide allowing Brookes through again, Byrne put in a successful pass the next time around and took his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki to the win by just over a second.

Despite taking the win, Byrne was placed on the second row of the grid for the first time this season for race two, with Alex Lowes sitting in pole position ahead of Josh Brookes and a returning to form Ryuichi Kiyonari. Bathams Honda rider Tommy Bridewell was wheeled off the grid ahead of the warm-up lap due to a mechanical problem and failed to make the race start.

‘Read more’ for our thoughts on what this could mean for the next few rounds…

Seemingly given a new lease of life this weekend, Kiyonari got a storming start off the line, but it was Byrne who led into the first corner ahead of Samsung Honda’s Alex Lowes, Brookes and Kiyonari. Milwaukee Yamaha’s weekend went from bad to worse as James Ellison clipped the back of Chris Walkers Quattro Plant Kawasaki at Duffus dip and crashed out of the race before it had even started properly. This was followed by a crash at the next corner from Bridewell’s team-mate Michael Rutter, making race two one to forget for Bathams Honda. 
By the second lap, 1.8 seconds covered the top five with Walker holding onto fifth position. Australian Brookes passed Alex Lowes at the first corner of the fifth lap and began to chase down Byrne. Buildbase BMW’s James Westmoreland was locked in a battle for sixth position with Keith Farmer, both swapping places on the sixth lap. Not far down the road was PJ Jacobsen leading the battle for eighth position ahead of Kirkham on the second Buildbase BMW and the GBMoto team-mates of Dan Linfoot and Peter Hickman.

With Brookes breaking away from Lowes back at the front, it was a Samsung Honda battle for the final position on the podium with Kiyonari beating his team-mate Lowes to the final podium position after he made a strong manoeuvre stick on lap 18. In a hectic scuffle for 11th position a returning-from-injury Dan Linfoot slipped down the order but was showing his steely determination by ruthlessly fighting to cross the line first in the fight. Robbin Harms and Jacob Smrz were involved with the group and collided in the Real Radio hairpin, ending their race.

In the closing laps it was clear Josh Brookes wasn’t giving up and set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap and was looking to catch Byrne. However it seemed he was pushing a little too much when he took a little too much kerb on the final lap, almost launching his Suzuki into the Scottish scenery. As a result, Brookes finished just 0.814 seconds behind Byrne. Kiyonari secured his second podium of the day and second podium of 2013 ahead of team-mate Lowes, and veteran Chris Walker rounded out the top five.

A full list of results can be found here.

It’s been a disastrous weekend for previous BSB championship winning team Milwaukee Yamaha, who seem to have had very little luck over the past three rounds. Josh Waters pulled in during both races this weekend due to issues with his R1 and Ellison has struggled with setup all weekend before running out of the little luck he had as he clipped the back wheel of Chris Walker’s ZX10R Kawasaki at the beginning of race two. Provided they don’t smash anymore mirrors before Snetterton in three weeks time, the R1 has performed well at the Norfolk circuit in the past so we may see a turn around of results for the SMR Squad.

Another rider who hasn’t had the most ideal of weekends is Alex Lowes. The Lincolnshire rider hasn’t seemed his usual 2013 self at Knockhill and this showed with his highside in race one. However, Knockhill for whatever reason seems to be a bit of a bogie circuit for Lowes, given that his best finish there since 2011 was an 8th before today, so it would be fair to expect Lowes to be fully back on form at Snetterton.

Shane Byrne had the ideal weekend with everything seemingly falling into place between himself and his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki. With six wins out of eight races so far this season, the Londoner looks like the man to beat with only Lowes and Josh Brookes being to only riders being able to keep up with him consistently. Although, the Knockhill round revealed an apparent return of ‘King Kiyo’. The question is, can Kiyo keep this up and progress further to challenge Brookes, Byrne, Lowes and Ellison for victories and podium places consistently? Whilst he definitely seemed happier and more like his ‘old’ self on the track today, there is still a lot of room for progress with the Japanese rider still not fully content with the setup of his Honda. Kiyo now heads to Snetterton in 7th place, just six points outside the Showdown zone; whether or not the former most successful BSB rider ever has truly found his mojo or not, should be revealed at the Norfolk circuit where he won the last time he was in the series in 2011.

Knockhill was only round four of the twelve round BSB championship… the ‘War for Four’ has begun?

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