BSB Knockhill: I Shake It Off, I Shake It Off…

After dominating the previous round at Snetterton just a fortnight ago, four times British Superbike Champion, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne threw his cards down on the table at Knockhill last weekend for the 5th round of the 2015 series, taking another double victory ahead of team mate Stuart Easton on both occasions.

2x PBM 1-2 in Scotland

Photo: MCE BSB

On the back of a disappointing 3rd round at Oulton Park, which saw the BSB veteran (sorry, Shane..) crash out of the second race after War for Four rival Ryuichi Kiyonari’s BMW S1000RR torpedoed the rear of Byrne’s Kawasaki, the Londoner has been out to prove a point ever since.

Race Report

Race 1
As the lights went out and riders hurtled round the 1.2mile circuit for the first time, Byrne managed to clinch the lead into the final corner from home-round-hero team mate, Stuart Easton, before a crash at the back of the pack lead to the safety car being sent out on circuit while debris was cleared.

The main battle for the final podium position in the first half of the race was between Ohalloran and Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes with the Aussie duo being passed by Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty before the Northern Irishman setting his sights on Scotsman Stuart Easton ahead of him.

Come the final lap, Byrne had enough of a gap to stop any further attacks from behind, taking the win, while Laverty managed to best Easton taking second over the line with the second PBM rider rounding out the podium positions. Laverty was later shifted back down to fourth in the overall results due to passing Brookes under yellow flags, which lifted Easton into second, Brookes third, Laverty fourth and O’Halloran fifth.

Championship contenders, James Ellison and Ryuichi Kiyonari were both fallers in the race along with a series of other riders including Dan Linfoot, Richard Cooper and Jack Kennedy.

Race 2
The second outing for the British Superbike brigade turned from usual 30 lap strategic race to all-out-war 11 lap sprint after a brief shower stopped the race just before the 2/3s distance mark on lap 19. Byrne, Laverty, Brookes and Easton lead the charge prior to the stoppage.

Byrne made a rocket-like start off the line for the second outing of the second outing, controlling the pace from the get-go, fending off launches from the rear for the entirety of the sprint race. Easton brought his Kawasaki home in second once again ahead of Brookes just behind him. Kiyonari redeemed himself from his race one crash with a 4th place finish ahead of Jason O’Halloran, while Michael Laverty, Danny Buchan and James Westmoreland filled out the top 8.

James Ellison was a retiree this race as well due to a malfunction on his JG Speedfit Kawasaki, while Quattroplant Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey failed to finish due to crashing out of the race.

Results

Race One
1. Shane Byrne
2. Stuart Easton
3. Josh Brookes
4. Michael Laverty
5. Jason O’Halloran
6. Danny Buchan
7. Tommy Bridewell
8. Luke Mossey
9. James Westmoreland
10. Peter Hickman

Race Two
1. Shane Byrne
2. Stuart Easton
3. Josh Brookes
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari
5. Jason O’Halloran
6. Michael Laverty
7. Danny Buchan
8. James Westmoreland
9. Peter Hickman
10. Christian Iddon

Full results here.

Rider Reactions

Photo: MCE BSB

It was a weekend to forget for former 2015 series leader, James Ellison: “This weekend has been bitterly disappointing. I struggled a little with the ribs but we had the pace to be running at the front and chasing a podium and even the wins. I had a silly little crash in the first race, which was a weird as we didn’t do anything different but it was at the same corner a lot of the guys did too so I’m not sure if there was something there. The saving grace of that however was I had set the fastest lap of the race so would be starting the second from pole position.

Again that last race I came into it very confident of a good result and following Laverty for the opening few laps I thought I could be quicker so put a move on him but it was a bit of a hard one and the forks bottomed out which tried to tuck the front. With the grass being wet there was nothing I could do but rejoin in last position. The red flag gave us a bit of chance to move up but the bike cut out on us across the straight. The team have worked flat out and the bike is mega, it’s a Championship winning package and we just need a bit of luck to get back to where we’ve shown we can run.”

Well and truly back to winning ways, you can imagine four time BSB champion, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s reaction: “The pace in the first race wasn’t the fastest but each time I tried to push hard and make the break, the bike was spinning up a bit and it didn’t quite feel right. My lead stayed around the 0.2 seconds mark so I tried to stay consistent, hitting all my lines, and then waited until the last couple of laps to go again. In the second race, the plan was to start from the front and finish at the front and with not having a full tank of fuel for the restart; I knew I could push hard straight away. The bike was perfect so a big thanks to the team and also to the guys at K-Tech and with Stuart in second, it’s been a great weekend for Paul Bird Motorsport.”

Team mate to Byrne and home-hero, Stuart Easton was nearly as elated, despite yet again having missed out on a home win: “I still haven’t managed a win at Knockhill after all these years but I’m pleased with second and third even though I was a bit disappointed with the result in the first race as I felt settled sitting behind Shakey and was strong in the last sector. Then Michael Laverty came under me and there was a bit of contact so I lost the tow to Shakey, I got beat up a bit but at least I got a podium. The second race was a lot better and it’s more points and podium credits so thanks to the team and well done to everyone at Knockhill for doing a great job.”

Sometimes you can do all the preparation, be as fit as a professional athlete… but still get struck down by the most irritating of illnesses (literally), as Billy McConnell found out: “It’s been another tough weekend but for vastly different reasons and getting chicken pox certainly wasn’t in the script! I looked like something out of a horror movie with all the spots and getting my helmet on was extremely painful although when I was riding it wasn’t too bad. I did feel more fatigued than normal though and Knockhill’s a demanding circuit at the best of times. I gave it my all in both races and picked up a few more points so am looking forward to testing at Mallory next week and then bouncing back at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.”

And finally, Michael Laverty explains his perspective on the yellow flag incident: “I’m angry yet satisfied that we were fighting for race wins today, which is a first for me this season. I’m feeling more at home on the Tyco BMW, so a big thank you must go to the team for their hard work to get me there. In race one I felt really strong in the latter stages; I made a few hard moves to finish in second place, but unfortunately I got penalised back to fourth due to making a move in a yellow flag zone.

Neither Josh [Brookes] or myself saw any flags, as the incident happened as we arrived at the corner, but rules are rules so I must take it on the chin. I led for a long time in race two before the rain came; then for the restart we had an electronic problem on the grid, which caused me to go backwards instead of fighting for that win again. I’m feeling frustrated tonight but satisfied with my riding and really positive about the rest of the season as we have not reached our full potential yet.”

Tweets of the Weekend

Championship Standings

1. Shane Byrne 201
2. Josh Brookes 166
3. Stuart Easton 139
4. James Ellison 118
5. Jason O’Halloran 96
6. Tommy Bridewell 86
7. Michael Laverty 76
8. Dan Linfoot 54
9. Ryuichi Kiyonari 52
10. Howie Mainwaring 45

Next Round

Round 6 – Brands Hatch GP, Kent. 17 – 19 July 2015.

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