After 26 races, over 1000 kilometres of racing, 10 winners, 16 podium finishers and over 300,000 trackside spectators, the BSB championship came to an end on Sunday afternoon, with Shane Byrne producing a magical comeback to take his 6th BSB title – the first time he has successfully defended his crown.
The 40-year-old Londoner took wins in both race one and race two, placing him just two points down on the-then leader Leon Haslam going into the final race of the championship. A poor start for Byrne and a great start for Haslam meant that he was behind the Kawasaki man. However, Haslam’s crash meant that Byrne had to finish in the top 11 to win the championship. The PBM Ducati rider finished 8th, enough for an unprecedented sixth title to cement his position as the most successful rider in BSB history.
Josh Brookes, who didn’t finish outside the top four all weekend, jumped up to 2nd in the series in the final race, finishing runner-up in his return to British Superbikes. The popular Australian was third in race one and fourth in race two, meaning he needed to win and hope that Byrne and Haslam were not in the top 11 and 12 respectively to take the title. Although half of the equation was complete with Haslam out, Byrne rode a tactical race to remain in the required positions. He took a third win of the season for the Anvil Hire Tag Racing Yamaha team, finishing a mere 3 points shy of Byrne. Brookes was the only rider to finish the final three races of the season in the top four.
Leon Haslam never looked like he was in the zone at Brands. The Kawasaki rider had a massive 32 point lead over Brookes coming into the final round but saw it all whittled down by the end of the weekend. A 4th place in race one followed by a disastrous 10th in race two meant Haslam went into the last round needing to beat Byrne, or hope that if Byrne was in the top 4, that it’d be behind him and not in front. A brake failure into Hawthorn’s saw Haslam jump off his bike at over 170mph, smashing into the air-fencing. This gave Byrne and Brookes the chance they needed and Haslam finished the championship 3rd – having led into the meeting.
Dixon and Hickman lost their chancre to fight for the championship in the opening race on Saturday. Dixon crashed on oil at Clearways whilst Hickman didn’t take enough points off Leon Haslam. Hicky took 4th in the championship and Jason O’Halloran rounded out the top five, after his great weekend which saw him on the podium in the final race. Dixon scored four points all weekend, meaning he finished 6th.
As mentioned, this is the first time that Byrne has ever retained his championship and it is the first time that a rider has successfully defended their crown since Ryuichi Kiyonari, in 2006 and 2007. It was the first time since 2002 and 2003 that Ducati had won back-to-back riders championships, with Hislop and Byrne being the riders in those years respectively.
Image by: Peter Backhurst