What an end to the season. Looking like it was finally Leon’s Championship year going into the last Brands Hatch round, over the course of three races and two days everything changed.
Ducati have shared with MotorMartin the following race reports and they’re well worth reading, they tell quite a tale.
Be Wiser Ducati’s Shane’ Shakey’ Byrne got his title defence off to the best possible start at Brands Hatch after topping all 3 practice and qualifying sessions before going on to claim pole in Q3 with a storming 1:24.163s lap around his local race circuit.
John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins had been running well on his Moto Rapido Panigale R and was looking good for a front row start until he crashed out of Q3 at Graham Hill Bend. Hopper has been transferred to Kings Hospital for further assessment, after suffering a fractured L2 vertebra and suspected fractures to both knees.
Shakey initially got a poor start from pole and found himself down in 6th. But before he could progress through the top runners, 5 riders crashed out at Clearways after Dan Linfoot’s Honda dropped fluid onto the track and the race was red-flagged.
Starting from 4th on the 16-lap restart, Shakey got a much better launch of the line and was soon up into 3rd having passed Brookes (Anvil TAG Hire Racing). On Lap 2 he passed his main title rival Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) into Paddock Hill Bend, before getting the better of Christian Iddon (TCYO BMW Motorrad) for the lead at Pilgrim’s Drop.
From then on Shakey got into a good rhythm, posting consecutive fastest laps as he and Iddon started to pull a gap to over Brookes in 3rd. As the race progressed Shakey was then able to build up a 1.799s lead over Iddon, going on to claim his first victory on board his Ducati Panigale R since the double header held at Brands Hatch back in July.
With Haslam finishing in 4th position, Shakey managed to reduce the championship leader’s gap at the front from 33 points to 21 – with 2 races left to on the Sunday.
Unfortunately for Shakey’s teammate Glenn Irwin it was a race to forget after he retired from 10th position on Lap 10.
Shakey went into Race 2 at Brands Hatch knowing he would need to win to keep his title defence alive. The Be Wiser Ducati rider got great start to maintain is 3rd place position grid. At the end of lap 2 he passed the first of his title rivals Haslam at Druids before going on to despatch Brookes to take the race lead.
Despite pressure from Iddon and suffering problems with his auto-blipper in the dying laps of the race, Shakey maintained his 1st place position to take his 2nd decisive victory of the weekend.
Haslam went backwards as the race progressed, eventually finishing in 10th position resulting in just a 2-point gap between the riders.
Irwin had a much better race starting from 11th and managed to cross the chequered flag in 7th.
Coming in to final race of the 2017 season, Shakey needed to ensure he finished ahead of his title rival Haslam on track to ensure a 6th British Superbike title.
Shakey started from the middle of the front row in 2nd, while Haslam started from the middle of the 4th row in 11th. But as the lights went out Haslam got a fantastic start to launch himself just ahead of Shakey, who had dropped back to 6th.
But drama struck on Lap 6, when Haslam crashed out at Hawthorn Bend, ending the Kawasaki rider’s shot at the title. With Haslam out of the race, Shakey had to bring his Panigale R home in the points to ensure his first ever successful title defence.
Brookes won the race, but Shakey finished in 8th to collect 8 points and win the British Superbike Championship for the 6th time with 637 points. Brookes finished 2nd with 634 points, while Haslam‘s DNF saw him demoted to from 1st to 3rd in the championship.
Irwin had started from 12th and was running well, until a false neutral forced him off-track at Sheen Curve. He re-joined the race back in 18th, fighting back to a 13th place finish, just 0.07s behind Showdown rider Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki).
Shakey has now won 4 British Superbike titles using Ducati machinery.
2017 British Superbike Champion: Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Ducati Panigale R
2016 British Superbike Champion: Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Ducati Panigale R
2008 British Superbike Champion: Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Ducati 1098
2002 British Superbike Champion: Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Ducati 998
Where will you go?