Racing Legends: Shane Byrne

For every season in any sport we crave close action and the thrill of a championship battle. Sometimes we also need someone to stamp their own authority on a discipline; a measuring stick so to speak.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne at the 2017 BSB chmpionship at Oulton Park. Image courtesy of Ducati

In the 1990s and 2000s my beloved Manchester United swept the board in English football, Phil ‘The Power” Taylor became the doyen of darts with 16 world championship titles while Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and latterly Lewis Hamilton have monopolised the Formula One driver’s championship through different eras of the sport.

British Superbikes is no different. While some may point to Niall Mackenzie’s hat-trick of title wins in the 1990s or Leon Camier’s 2009 championship victory as examples of BSB dominance, these pail into insignificance when one name is mentioned above all the rest. Shane Byrne.

After emerging in the championship during 1999 and an impressive eighth place finish aboard a privateer Suzuki in 2001, Byrne claimed his first BSB victory at Donington Park in 2002 on board the Renegade Ducati machine. Controversy reigned at the end of 2002 when ‘Shakey’ first linked up with Paul Bird to ride the MonsterMob Ducati bike for 2003. He replaced champion Steve Hislop in the process, and one of British motorsport’s great manager-rider partnerships was born.

The 2003 season saw Byrne claim the BSB title in stunning fashion, winning 12 races to take his maiden championship title with the first nine victories coming within the first half of the season. To add to his imperious domestic form, Byrne also claimed a convincing double victory in the Brands Hatch World Superbike round as well. The impressive return in 2003 saw Byrne make the jump to MotoGP as he gained a seat aboard the Aprilia alongside Jeremy McWilliams.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne At BSB Oulton 2017.Image courtesy of Ducati

After a less than successful stay in the premier class, Byrne made his return to the British scene in 2006 with Rizla Suzuki. During a season that involved a stomach virus, bike thefts and an injury at the final round, Byrne managed to pick up podiums at Oulton Park and Knockhill, winning the second race in Scotland. After highsiding in the final round at Brands Hatch, Byrne was knocked out and thus didn’t compete in the final race meaning his final position in the standings slipped from fourth to sixth.

Following a competitive season in 2007, back under the stewardship of Paul Bird on the Stobart Vent-Axia Honda in which he claimed a victory at Mallory Park and eventually finished fifth overall, Byrne was back on a Ducati for 2008. Riding for GSE Racing’s Airwaves Ducati team aboard the monstrous new 1098 machine, ‘Shakey’ took the title in a dominant fashion reminiscent of his 2003 championship year. He only finished outside of the podium places on one occasion (a fifth and a fourth respectively in the two races at Croft) and claimed the title by a comfortable 117 point margin from nearest rival, HM Plant Honda’s Leon Haslam.

Two more fruitless years followed as Byrne moved up to World Superbikes before HM Plant Honda gave ‘Shakey’ a seat for 2011. Despite notching a handful of victories, inconsistencies saw Byrne and team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari fall behind the leaders Tommy Hill and John Hopkins.

A third reunion with Paul Bird followed in 2012 when the PBM team began racing Kawasaki machines. The old partnership was once again tasting glory at the end of the season. Despite not winning a race until the seventh outing of the campaign, Byrne soon turned his form around, taking four of the final seven races of the season – finishing second in the other three – to capture the championship for a third time.

After finishing second behind Samsung Honda’s Alex Lowes in 2013, Byrne was once again back atop the pile a year later in record-breaking style as he helped himself to 11 victories throughout the course of the campaign before comfortably clinching the title 62 points clear of former team-mate Kiyonari.

#67 Shane Shakey Byrne Sittingbourne Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team MCE British Superbikes

Another second placed finish came in 2015  – this time behind Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes –  before Byrne really stamped his authority on the British series with a pair of back-to-back title wins in 2016 and 2017.

The 2016 triumph saw Byrne hold off the challenge of Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam with nine race wins contributing to the title win by a 59 point margin while 2017 was a much tighter affair. Despite winning more races than the second placed Brookes  – 7-3 in Byrne’s favour –  the championship was decided by just three points in one of the closest title races in BSB history.

A serious accident during a mid-season test session at Snetterton curtailed Byrne’s 2018 season and he hasn’t been seen on a bike since as the rehab process following the accident continues. However, you can still regularly see ‘Shakey’ on your screen offering his opinions and comments as a pundit for Eurosport.

It remains to be seen whether we’ll see Shane Byrne aboard a BSB machine again although one thing is for certain. Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is a bona fide racing legend.

Brookes Makes His A Double With Second BSB Title

The 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship came to a head this weekend at Brands Hatch with any one of five riders still able to claim the title prior to Saturday’s first race of the weekend. Here’s how the action played out. 

Jason O’Halloran took the initiative in Saturday’s race, one of the greatest in BSB history, by producing a masterful ride to win the first of the weekend. O’Halloran’s compatriot Josh Brookes set the early pace, holding off a resurgent Glenn Irwin who soared from seventh to second.

The Honda man took the lead from a stuttering Brookes and was soon joined at the front of the pack by O’Halloran and VisionTrack Ducati’s Christian Iddon. Irwin himself began to fade and was soon usurped in the top three by O’Halloran’s McAms Yamaha team-mate Tarran Mackenzie.

As a battle ensued between Iddon and Mackenzie for second place, O’Halloran was able to pull the pin and race clear of the chasing pack to seal the victory and leave the title picture with more questions than answers as he cut Brookes’ championship lead to just seven points heading into the decisive final Sunday of the season.

While he was swallowed up by the chasing pack in the opening race, Josh Brookes wasted little time in asserting his authority in race two by turning out a dominant performance to firmly swing the championship pendulum in his direction.

Brookes grabbed the lead in the early stages of the first lap and wouldn’t relinquish his position, swatting away the challenge of Tarran Mackenzie who drifted away on lap seven, falling more than two seconds adrift of Brookes. Jason O’Halloran managed to shake off Christian Iddon’s advances and place himself as Brookes’ main rival for the chequered flag.

Despite managing to eat into the Ducati rider’s advantage, the Yamaha man still found himself more than a second behind his fellow countryman which allowed Brookes to extend his advantage to twelve points meaning that a top three finish would seal the championship for the VisionTrack Ducati man.

It was more of the same from Brookes who won the championship in emphatic style, five years on from his first when he came top of the standings on the Milwaukee Yamaha in 2015.

Josh Brookes Celebrating being the 2020 BSB Champion. Image courtesy of Ducati

It was another dominant performance, fitting for a champion as he once again held off the challenges of O’Halloran and Mackenzie respectively, knowing that falling behind the Yamaha pair could spell the end of his championship ambitions.

The final standings saw Brookes take the title, 22 points clear of nearest challenger Jason O’Halloran. Christian Iddon ended his first season on the VisionTrack Ducati third in the final table with Glenn Irwin and Tarran Mackenzie rounding out the top five.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic restricting the BSB action we’ve seen this year, 2020 will go down as one of the most fiercely competitive seasons in recent years with no less than eight different riders tasting victory over the course of the year. Thoughts now turn to 2021 when hopefully we’ll see more of the same over a longer calendar. All that remains to say is congratulations to Josh Brookes on winning the title.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati.

BSB Title Race Blown Wide Open At Oulton Park

It was a dramatic weekend of action in the Cheshire countryside as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship visited Oulton Park. Here’s how the action unfolded over the course of a pulsating weekend. 

Polesitter Jason O’Halloran became the eighth different rider to claim a BSB victory in 2020 with his victory in Saturday’s race one. The Australian McAms Yamaha man took the victory at the end of a pulsating contest that saw the lead change hands on a number of occasions. Championship leader Glenn Irwin and VisionTrack Ducati’s Christian Iddon both led the pack on separate occasions during the race but O’Halloran (who had also earlier led) fought back and claimed the victory after successfully making his move by breaking down Iddon’s stern defence on the final lap and crossing the finish line just 0.358s ahead of the Mancunian rider. FS-3 Racing’s Danny Buchan rounded out the podium with his first top three finish of the season.

Jason O’Halloran winner at BSB Oulton Park 2020. Image courtesy of Impact Images/Mcams Yamaha

Andrew Irwin finished fourth ahead of brother Glenn with Lee Jackson on the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki ending in sixth. Synetiq BMW’s Brad Ray came seventh ahead of Iddon’s team-mate Josh Brookes and Tarran Mackenzie (McAms Yamaha) and Gino Rea on the Buildbase Suzuki rounding out the top 10. Rea’s Suzuki team-mate Kyle Ryde, a double winner during the previous round at Silverstone, crashed out of the race on the first lap.

It was more of the same for O’Halloran in Sunday’s first race as he claimed his second win of the season with a near-perfect display aboard the R1 to lead the race from the opening lap, holding off the challenges of Christian Iddon and Danny Buchan.

Thirty-five year old O’Halloran’s victory eventually held more gravitas than anyone would have expected prior to the race when Glenn Irwin was forced to withdraw from the race following technical problems with his Honda FireBlade. The win for O’Halloran combined with Irwin’s DNF catapulted the Australian Yamaha rider well and truly into the title race, slashing Irwin’s lead to just five points.

A determined ride from Josh Brookes saw him finish fourth after being as low as seventh at one point while a fine move from Lincolnshire rider Lee Jackson on Andrew Irwin saw him nab fifth place. Tarran Mackenzie finished in sixth ahead of Irwin. Luke Mossey, aboard the Rich Energy OMG Kawasaki finished in ninth place as the filling in a BMW sandwich with Brad Ray in eighth and TT winner Peter Hickman on the Global Robots Smith’s BMW closing out the top 10.

The result of race three made it Australia Day in Cheshire as VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes reminded the championship leaders that he was still well and truly in the hunt for the prize by taking the victory. 2015 BSB champion Brookes was made to work hard for his second win of the season as his team-mate Christian Iddon provided a spirited challenge. Iddon had a number of chances to make a move on his PBM partner but Brookes’ experience came to the fore as he continually held Iddon at bay.

Josh Brookes and Christian Iddon at BSB Oulton Park 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

Lee Jackson capped off a fine weekend for FS-3 Racing as he pinched a spot on the podium at the expense of Jason O’Halloran after making his move at Lodge and cross the line 0.096s ahead of the Yamaha rider. Jackson’s team-mate Danny Buchan ended the race in fifth position ahead of Glenn Irwin, the Honda man’s sixth place result means he ends the weekend still on top of the standings but only by a tight margin of two points from man of the weekend O’Halloran. Peter Hickman enjoyed his best finish of the season in eighth place behind Brad Ray. Tarran Mackenzie and Luke Mossey rounded out the top 10.

As previously mentioned, the events of the thrilling weekend at Oulton leaves Glenn Irwin just two points clear of Jason O’Halloran at the top of the standings with Josh Brookes in third, himself just ten points behind Honda Racing’s irwin. Christian Iddon can still harbour designs on the title just two points behind VisionTrack Ducati team-mate Brookes on 166. There’s then a gap of 32 points between Iddon and nearest challenger, Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell.

It may be an over-used clichè in sports but it really is all to play for now as there are just six races remaining of the 2020 BSB season with the attention shifting to the Grand Prix layout of Donington Park over the weekend of 2-4 October.

Featured Image courtesy of Impact Images/McAMS Yamaha.

BSB 2020: The Story So Far

As the Bennetts British Superbike Championship heads to the Cheshire countryside for it’s fourth meeting of the season at Oulton Park, let’s recall what took place during the first half of the truncated 2020 season. 

Tarran Mackenzie winner of Race 1 at Silverstone BSB 2020. Image courtesy of Impact Image/McAMS Yamaha

The action got underway at Donington Park with Honda Racing’s Andrew Irwin making the headlines for both the right and wrong reasons.

Northern Irishman Irwin took the first two races of the season ahead of brother Glenn before controversy reigned in the final race of the weekend when Andrew collided with VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes, which led to the Australian rider crashing out of the race at Hollywood.

While replays showed that there was a gap that many believed Irwin was right to attempt to exploit, the BSB officials took a rather dim view on the incident, claiming that the Honda rider had made ‘unfair and avoidable’ contact and disqualified Irwin from the race and ordered him to start the next race from the back of the grid. The incident had no effect on the race winner as Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell took the spoils.

After a decade of trying, Christian Iddon finally claimed his maiden BSB in race one of the second meetings at Snetterton. The Mancunian rider was embroiled in a tough battle with VisionTrack Ducati team-mate Josh Brookes before taking the lead with five laps remaining and then sprinting clear of the Australian to claim a comfortable victory.

Brookes took his first victory of 2020 in the second Snetterton race after an intriguing tussle with championship leader Glenn Irwin. The two men battled hard and traded the lead until a mistake by Irwin allowed Brookes to build a decisive lead. The Honda rider attempted to snatch the lead back at Agostini’s but ran wide thus shutting the door on his hopes of victory.

Irwin responded with a win of his own in the third race of the meeting to prevent a Ducati hat-trick and extend his lead in the standings by 23 points. Despite being as low as seventh at the end of the first lap, Irwin showed great determination to fight his way through the pack and eventually take the lead during lap 10. The Honda man wouldn’t surrender his position and finished 1.138s ahead of nearest challenger Tommy Bridewell.

The championship front runners had their noses bloodied at the third meeting of the season at Silverstone as two more riders took the spoils to take the tally of BSB competitors taking victories in 2020 to a magnificent seven.

Tarran Mackenzie on the McAms Yamaha took an emotional win one tenth of a second ahead of Buildbase Suzuki’s Kyle Ryde with Yamaha team-mate Jason O’Halloran taking third place. Mackenzie showed tremendous pace to fight his way through the pack from twelfth position to take the second victory of his BSB career, his first coming at the same venue in 2019.

Buoyed by his maiden BSB podium in the first Silverstone race, reigning British GP2 Champion Kyle Ryde backed up his impressive form in the early rounds to claim victory in races two and three in Northamptonshire. In the second race, Ryde perched himself behind long-time race leader Josh Brookes before opening up the taps and making his move on the Australian on lap 27. Ryde soon pulled the pin and scorched clear, eventually coming home a comfortable 1.686s ahead of the Ducati rider.

Kyle Ryde, winner; Tarran Mackenzie, second place and Jason O’Halloran third in Race 2 at the 2020 BSB Silverstone round. Image courtesy of Impact Image/McAMS Yamaha

In the third race of the weekend, Ryde put in a dominant performance and controlled the pace of the race to romp home 1.549s ahead of race one winner Mackenzie.

Going into the Oulton Park round, it’s Glenn Irwin who heads the championship some 35 points clear of VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes and Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell. Ryde’s brace of victories at Silverstone catapulted him into fourth place ahead of McAms Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran (the only rider in the top seven to have not yet won a race in 2020). Christian Iddon sits in sixth place, five points clear of Tarran Mackenzie.

It’s all to play for now as we enter the business end of the season with race one of the weekend at Oulton Park getting underway at 16.15 on Saturday (September 18th).


The BSB Winner’s Enclosure Welcomes Two New Members At Silverstone

Two more riders entered the winner’s enclosure in the Bennett’s British Superbike Championship at Silverstone as McAms Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie and Buildbase Suzuki’s Kyle Ryde took the spoils in Northamptonshire over the weekend.

It was Mackenzie who took race one on Saturday at the end of an exciting final lap that saw the Yamaha cross the line just 0.105 seconds clear of an improving Ryde who took his first BSB podium. McAms team-mate Jason O’Halloran rounded out the podium in third.

A fourth placed finish for Glenn Irwin allowed the Northern Irish Honda rider to extend his lead at the top of the championship with brother Andrew coming home in fifth, Josh Brookes finished sixth ahead of Lee Jackson. Brookes’ VisionTrack Ducati team-mate Christian Iddon finished eighth with Tommy Bridewell claiming a points finish to hold on to second place in the championship.

Mackenzie, son of triple BSB Champion Niall, replicated his heroics from Silverstone in 2019 and truly catapulted himself into contention for the 2020 title.

If Saturday belonged to Mackenzie, then there is no doubt who should have joined him in the headlines on Sunday as Kyle Ryde earned his first British top-flight wins with a pair of fine victories.

Ryde was clearly brimming with confidence after securing his maiden BSB podium on Saturday and bided his time and held his position behind Josh Brookes before making his move on the Australian on lap 27. After pulling in front of the Ducati rider, Ryde put the hammer down and opened up a healthy lead to cross the line 1.686 seconds clear of Brookes and recording the fastest lap of the race in the process. Jason O’Halloran once again came home in third with Glenn Irwin replicating his result from race one in fourth.

Bradley Ray came out on top of an exciting battle for fifth place ahead of a chasing pack that included Tommy Bridewell, Lee Jackson and Danny Buchan, although FS3 Kawasaki rider Buchan was docked a grid place for exceeding track limits out of the final corner. Honda’s Andrew Irwin came home in ninth with OMG Racing’s Hector Barbera rounding out the top 10.

Kyle Ryde, winner; Tarran Mackenzie, second place and Jason O’Halloran third in Race 2 at the 2020 BSB Silverstone round.
Image courtesy of Impact Image/McAMS Yamaha

It was more of the same for Ryde in the final race of the weekend as he led from lights to flag to secure a dominant win, coming home 1.549 seconds ahead of nearest challenger Tarran Mackenzie. Jason O’Halloran finished on the bottom step of the podium for the third time this weekend with Glenn Irwin also recording a hat-trick of fourth placed finishes which allowed the Honda rider to extend his lead at the top of the championship to 35 points.

Tommy Bridewell prevailed after a three-way Ducati battle for fifth place, getting the better of Brookes and Iddon who finished sixth and seventh respectively. Lee Jackson finished in eighth position ahead of Andrew Irwin and Luke Mossey (ninth and tenth respectively) who just edged Danny Buchan out of the top 10 on the final lap of the weekend.

Ryde’s double wins puts him into fourth place in the standings with 114 points behind Josh Brookes and Tommy Bridewell who are both locked on 122 behind Glenn Irwin on 157.

All eyes will be on the Cheshire countryside on the weekend of 18-20 September when BSB heads to Oulton Park for round four.

Featured image courtesy of Impact Image/McAMS Yamaha

Thrills And Spills Aplenty As The #BSBRestart Heats Up At Donington

After all of the drama and excitement of yesterday’s (Saturday August 8th)  opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, how would rounds two and three pan out on day two of the #BSBRestart? Read on to find out. 

Round Two

It was more of the same for Honda Racing’s Andrew Irwin as he once again saw off older brother Glenn to take maximum points from round two at Donington Park.

Pole sitter Josh Brookes started brightly aboard his VisionTrack Ducati but was pegged back by Glenn Irwin at the Old Hairpin. Christian Iddon improved his position to third place and soon had Andrew Irwin for company with the Carrickfergus man performing an excellent manoeuvre on Iddon at the Craner Curves whilst McAms Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran edged himself into the thoughts of the front runners by running in fourth.

Australian rider O’Halloran was soon engaged in an interesting battle with Oxford Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell as the two swapped places during the midway point of the race. O’Halloran eventually prevailed and attempted to pilot himself within distance of the Hondas after swatting away the challenge of Iddon on lap 16.

With five laps to go, the Australian made his move on Andrew Irwin and temporarily held second place before the Northern Irishman fired back and took back his position with a move at Schwantz Curve.

As the action moved into the final lap, either one of the Irwin brothers or Jason O’Halloran could have taken the victory. It would be the younger Irwin sibling who prevailed, performing a smart braking move at Roberts to force his older brother wide and eventually take the win to complete a second Honda/Irwin 1-2 of the weekend with O’Halloran taking third for McAms Yamaha’s first podium of 2020.

Kyle Ryde at BSB Donington Park 2020. Image courtesy of Suzuki Racing

Buildbase Suzuki’s Kyle Ryde recorded a career best fourth place after securing the position thanks to a last lap move that consigned Massingberd-Mundy Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan to fifth place. Josh Brookes made up some lost ground to finish sixth ahead of Tarran Mackenzie and team-mate Christian Iddon.

Tommy Bridewell’s bid for third place on lap 24 almost ended in disaster but the Oxford Ducati man recovered and fought his way back through the field to finish ninth with Hector Barberá rounding out the top 10 on the Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW.

Round Three 

The Honda monopoly during the opening weekend of the #BSBRestart was broken as Tommy Bridewell turned out a superb, dominant win aboard the Oxford Products Ducati to take his first win of 2020.

Save for a hairy moment early on that almost unseated the Wiltshire native, Bridewell’s dominance shone through from lights to flag and by lap 11, he was running at almost four seconds a lap quicker than the remainder of the field.

Josh Brookes looked comfortable in second before being reined in by both Irwin brothers and Jason O’Halloran. Glenn Irwin was the first to move on the Australian before the race’s dramatic moment when Andrew Irwin made his move up to second.

At the exit of Redgate, the younger Irwin pulled level with Brookes and a slight collision at the entrance to Hollywood saw the Australian fly off his VisionTrack Ducati and off the track at high speed, thankfully the 38 year old came out of the accident unhurt.

The Irwin Brothers at BSB 2020 Donington Park. Image courtesy of Honda Racing

The collision means that at the time of writing, the result remained under investigation however the maximum points achieved by Tommy Bridewell doesn’t need to be scrutinised further. Andrew Irwin finished in second but faces a time penalty with Glenn coming in third.

Jason O’Halloran ended in fourth position ahead of Christian Iddon, Danny Buchan and Tarran Mackenzie. Kyle Ryde ended an impressive race weekend with eighth place in round three ahead of Hector Barbera in ninth and Ryan Vickers completing the top 10 aboard the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki.

Support Class Round-Up 

Former British Talent Cup winner Rory Skinner took maximum points from the opening rounds of the British Supersport/British GP2 Championship with a  pair of dominant wins on the Tyser Yamaha R6.

Honda’s Tom Neave took race one of the Superstock 1000 weekend before Chrissy Rouse on the Crowe Performance BMW held off the challenge of first Lewis Rollo and then Billy McConnell to take the spoils in race two.

Owen Jenner made it three from three aboard his Massingberd-Mundy Kawasaki in the Junior Supersport class while Casey O’Gorman and Franco Bourne were the weekend’s victors in the British Talent Cup.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

All Systems Go At Donington As BSB Finally Gets Underway

At long last the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship got underway this afternoon (Saturday August 8th) at Donington Park. Here’s how the action unfolded during round one of the #BSBRestart. 

Andrew Irwin Winner, Glenn Irwin second and third Josh Brookes. Image courtesy of Honda Racing

Honda Racing’s Andrew Irwin claimed victory at the climax of a thrilling three-way battle alongside his brother/team-mate Glenn and VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes.

Buildbase Suzuki’s Kyle Ryde took the early initiative from his qualifying position of third and led during the early stages going from Hector Barberá, the Irwin brothers, Danny Buchan and the Ducati pair. Andrew Irwin went into second place during the second lap, out braving Barberá in a classy move at Roberts.

Buchan crashed out early on and was joined back in the garages by Synetiq BMW’s Bradley Ray and then Barberá himself.

Andrew Irwin claimed the lead from Ryde in the sixth lap as the Suzuki rider found himself as the filling in an Irwin sandwich as Glenn took second position to fight for supremacy with his brother. Josh Brookes had been biding his time and made his move on lap eight before being reeled back in by Ryde. Unfortunately for the Buildbase Suzuki man, technical issues forced his withdrawal from the race allowing Brookes back into third.

It was Glenn Irwin who held the lead when Brookes eventually made his bid for first on lap sixteen, which was successful but only temporarily as the Irwin brothers made a brave attack on Brookes at Schwantz which powered the two Hondas into the top 2.

During a pulsating final lap, Andrew Irwin made his final and decisive move on his brother which saw him take the lead, a stern defensive approach followed which saw the younger Irwin brother take the first win of the delayed 2020 season by a tight margin of 0.119s with Brookes in third.

Brookes’ Ducati team-mate Christian Iddon claimed fourth place ahead of Oxford Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell. Luke Mossey aboard the Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW came home in sixth. Tarran Mackenzie finished in seventh, ahead of team-mate and pole sitter Jason O’Halloran, whose progress was hampered by the necessity for evasive action after Danny Buchan’s accident. Ryan Vickers on the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki and Lee Jackson on the Massingberd-Mundy Kawasaki rounded out the top 10.

Attention now shifts to races two and three which will take place tomorrow afternoon (Sunday August 9th).

Jackson Fastest In BSB Testing Despite Impressive Showing From Honda

The 2020 Bennett’s British Superbike Championship season is now tantalisingly close and the excitement kicked up a gear on Tuesday 28th July as the teams descended on Donington Park for an official test session.

Andrew Irwin, aboard the new Honda FireBlade for the factory team, set the pace in the first two sessions posting a fastest lap time of 1.07.079 in session one, followed up by a 1.06.663 in the second run-out. Massingberd-Mundy Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan was second fastest in the first two sessions recording times of 1.07.216 and 1.06.813 respectively.

The elder of the Honda Racing Irwin brothers, Glenn, was quickest in the third and final session, posting a time of 1.06.640 with Buchan again recording the second fastest time with a 1.06.776.

In session four, it was Buchan’s team-mate Lee Jackson who finished top of the pile, recording an impressive 1.06.583 aboard his Massingberd-Mundy Kawasaki with McAms Yamaha’s Jason O’Halloran finishing the final session second fastest with a 1.06.597.

It was indeed Jackson who ended the day fastest overall, with O’Halloran again in second. Hector Barbera (Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW) was third, Glenn and Andrew Irwin rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth respectively.

Many people’s tip for the championship, Josh Brookes (PBM VisionTrack Ducati), best time came in session four with a 1:06.719. Brookes’ team-mate Christian Iddon’s best time was recorded in session three with a 1:06.719.

In the support classes, Rory Skinner of Tyser Yamaha was quickest of the Supersport riders across the four sessions, finishing top of the pile in all four with his quickest coming in session three with a 1.08.450. Bradley Perie aboard the Diamond H Racing Yamaha was second in all four sessions.

Chrissy Rouse dominated the test sessions for the Superstock riders, finishing fastest in three of the four sessions, piloting his Crowe Performance BMW to a 1.08.236 in session four, his fastest time of the day. Danny Kent, aboard the Morello Racing Kawasaki, finished fastest in session three, posting a 1.08.304.

With testing out of the way and some of the lockdown-enforced dust shaken off, focus shifts to the weekend of 7-9 August when BSB returns to Donington for the opening round of the 2020 season.

Featured Image courtesy of Honda Racing

Six Of The Best: BSB Nuggets

As the countdown to the 2020 Bennett’s British Superbike Season ticks towards the series roaring into life at Donington Park on August 7th, here are a few fun facts about the series’ history for you to wow your mates with down the pub when taking in a (socially distanced) cold one.  Each fact is relevant to its numerical position in the list.

1. The Birth Of The Championship 

The British Superbike Championship (BSB) can trace its origins back to 1988 at the start of the Superbike racing boom, which coincided with the inaugural World Superbike Championship season.

The first BSB season was contested under Formula TT rules with race number one taking place in May 1988 at the Carnaby track on the site of a former RAF base near Bridlington in East Yorkshire. The first race winner was Darren Dixon who piloted his Suzuki RG500 all the way to the first championship title later in the year.

Dixon went on to become a star in the field of sidecar racing, winning the World Sidecar Championship in 1995 and 1996. Dixon’s son Jake came second in the 2018 BSB Championship and now competes in Moto2.

2. Always The Bridesmaid 

Fact number two refers to the second position in the BSB Championship achieved by Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker four years on the trot between 1997 and 2000.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of these second placed finishes came at the climax of the 2000 season. With just three laps remaining in the final race, Walker led the pack only for his engine to fail on him. Despite trying desperately to reignite his machine, the mechanical problem allowed title rival Neil Hodgson to overtake Walker not just in the race but overall in the championship.

3. Niall’s Treble Triumph 

They say three is the magic number and it certainly was for Niall Mackenzie who became the most dominant rider of the 1990s, taking the BSB title three years in a row in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Riding on the spectacular Cadbury’s Boost Yamaha team—run by former Grand Prix rider Rob McElnea—Mackenzie racked up 14 wins over the course of the 1997 season. This record was only bettered by Leon Camier with 19 during his dominant 2009 title win, and only Shane Byrne has won more BSB titles than the super Scot.

The Mackenzie name lives on as Niall’s sons Tarran and Taylor both now compete in the BSB and Superstock championships respectively.

4. Champions From Afar 

Over the course of British Superbike history, there have been four riders from outside the UK and Ireland who have finished the season top of the pile.

The first was Australian Troy Bayliss who piloted his GSE Ducati 996 to the 1999 title before going on to win a hat-trick of championships in World Superbikes. Spaniard Gregorio Lavilla only got his ride aboard the Airwaves Ducati 999 just days before the start of the 2005 season as a substitute for the injured James Haydon, but ended the season as champion after surprising many and holding off the challenge of the Honda riders and team-mate Leon Haslam.

Ryuichi Kiyonari became the first Japanese rider to claim the BSB title when he prevailed at the end of the dramatic 2006 championship decider at Brands Hatch. ‘Kiyo’ repeated the feat in 2007 and then after a spell in World Superbikes returned in 2010 to make it a hat-trick of titles all aboard the HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR FireBlade.

The most recent foreigner to win the British championship was Australian King of the Cadwell Park Mountain Josh Brookes who won his first (and to date only) BSB crown aboard the Milwaukee Yamaha R1 in 2015.

5. Rockin’ All Over The World 

Five British Superbike riders (including two former champions) have gone on to win the World Superbike crown after making the move from the domestic series.

As mentioned earlier, Troy Bayliss won the British title in 1999 before going on to add the World crown on three occasions in 2001, 2008 and 2009. Lancashire rider Neil Hodgson capitalised on Chris Walker’s dramatic engine failure in the final race of the 2000 season to win the BSB title aboard the GSE Ducati 996 (same bike ridden by Bayliss the previous year) and then conquered the world in 2003.

James Toseland rode the Paul Bird-backed Vimto Honda VTR1000 during the 2000 BSB season before moving up to the World Championship, winning the global crown on two occasions in 2004 and aboard the HannSpree Ten Kate Honda in 2007.

In the same year that Toseland bagged his second World Championship, Tom Sykes made his BSB debut aboard the Stobart Vent-Axia Honda FireBlade. After a year with Rizla Suzuki in 2008, Sykes made the step up to WSBK with Yamaha Moto Italia. Four years after making his World Championship debut in 2013, Sykes won his maiden title aboard the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R.

Perhaps the most successful rider to have won the WSBK title after making his debut in BSB is none other than Jonathan Rea. After making his bow aboard the Red Bull Honda FireBlade in 2006 and then eventually stepping up to the factory HM Plant Honda team for 2007, finishing second in the championship behind team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari, Rea made the move to World Supersport for 2008. After eventually making the step up to the WSBK Championship in 2009, Rea went on to record five successive World Championships between 2015 and 2019, becoming the most successful rider in the history of the series.

6. Shakey’s Supremacy 

We couldn’t mention this number without making reference to the six British Superbike titles won by the most successful rider in the championship’s history, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne At BSB Oulton Park 2017. Image courtesy of Ducati

The first of Byrne’s titles came aboard the Monstermob Ducati 998 in 2003 before spells in World Superbikes and Moto GP. After returning to the British series in 2006 with Rizla Suzuki and Stobart Vent-Axia Honda in 2007, another ride aboard a Ducati (this time the 1098) yielded his second championship in 2008.

Following another brief stint in the World Superbike Championship and then a return to BSB with HM Plant Honda, Byrne reunited with former team boss Paul Bird in 2012 and netted his third British title the same year aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, repeating the trick in 2014. After the PBM team switched to a factory backed BeWiser Ducati Panigale 1199, Byrne notched another two back to back titles in 2016 and 2017.

Another rider will have to go a long way to depose Shane Byrne’s place in the BSB history books.

Those are our top six facts from BSB history. We look forward to seeing what the 2020 season can add to that when we hit Donington Park on August 7th.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati