Local lads Byrne and Hill fight off international opposition In Brands Hatch BSB Scorcher

Local riders Tommy Hill and Shane Byrne fought off an international cast of star riders to take the spoils at a scorching and incident packed opening round of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch. Tommy took the series lead whilst Shane clocked the fastest ever lap of the short ‘Indy’ circuit during qualifying using the latest generation of Pirelli Diablo Superbike tyres developed in the World Superbike Championship. The two riders, who both grew up close to the iconic Kent circuit, fought off a stellar line-up of competitors including last year’s series runner-up Josh Brookes (Australia), three-time BSB Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari (Japan) and former-MotoGP star John Hopkins (USA). Lingfield born Tommy was the first high-level BSB rider for Pirelli as a young racer with Virgin Yamaha. Having run off the track avoiding a collision with his team-mate Michael Laverty, Tommy fought his way through the pack in the first race before holding off a persistent Byrne in the second outing, “I’m so pleased with today, that’s a good result especially after what happened in the first race. It’s hard riding round here because you know there is always someone literally on your rear and you’re always mindful of backmarkers. There was carnage in race one and the safety car let the pace back right off, but in race two the pressure was just constant. The tyres remained consistent and that’s all you can ask for. No time to relax now, Oulton is just a few days away!” Race one saw HM Plant Honda rider Shane Byrne take the holeshot before being passed by Swan Yamaha’s Michael Laverty in an audacious move at the exit of Clearways onto the start-finish straight. Having virtually destroyed his bike in a spectacular morning warm-up crash, 2010 BSB Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari pulled out with a ‘technical’ issue on his freshly rebuilt HM Plant Honda with Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki rider John Hopkins crashing out of contention shortly afterwards. The main incident of an action packed race involved the Swan Yamaha team as Laverty highsided out of the lead, his stricken bike then being hit by Tommy Hill and narrowly avoided by Byrne. This left MSS Colchester Kawasaki‘s Stuart Easton the surprise leader until the Pirelli equipped Nissan safety car came out and compacted the field, giving Byrne a great opportunity to battle past the Scot and gap the field. Hill then passed Easton as he fought back from his earlier off-track excursion and finally so did a determined Tommy Bridewell, who took a popular first podium in the British Superbike Championship, on his Tyco Honda, in a last lap manoeuvre that demoted Easton to fourth. Race two was a comparatively calm affair in terms of position changes as Hill took the lead from Byrne on lap 14, before holding off the close attentions of first ‘Shakey’ then Kiyonari. Bryne had second in the bag but a failed lunge for the lead on the penultimate lap saw him fall back to third behind Kiyonari. Laverty will have been left feeling what ‘might have been’ after a DNF-4th scorecard. The fastest lap of Race 1 went to Tommy Hill with a 45.674 second lap, race two to Michael Laverty (45.679) while Shane Byrne set the fastest ever time around Brands Indy with a 45.112 lap in qualifying. The majority of the field plumped for the Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC2 front solution including the Swan riders, Hopkins, Rutter, Easton and Linfoot. Racers choosing the softer front SC1 consisted of the HM Plant Honda duo, Loris Baz and James Westmoreland. Josh Brookes had a weekend to forget, qualifying in a disappointing 13th in his first outing for Relentless by TAS Suzuki after a torrid practice. Having gone some way to recovering his poor grid position with an excellent start, a determined ride saw him battle his way to second place before suffering a massive crash at ‘Paddock’, ruling himself out of the second leg with concussion. Similarly John Hopkins threatened throughout practice until final qualifying to end up 11th on the grid, crashing in race one and finishing fifth in race two. Jason Griffiths, Pirelli Racing Manager commented, “What a great way to open up the new BSB season with four days of fantastic weather, incredible racing and fast times. We saw an even split of choices between the new SC1 and 2 front tyres whilst the new SC0 rear provided the fastest ever ‘2 wheels’ lap of Brands in qualifying. Great to see local riders taking the wins and congratulations to Tommy Bridewell for a battling and well earned first podium.” The new Pirelli World Superbike spec tyres will be available for all competitors and all trackday customers in 2011. The new compounds of the Pirelli Diablo Superbike tyres come with SC1 and SC2 front options and SC0 and SC1 rear, with ‘0’ being the softest and ‘2’ the hardest solutions. The tyres are designed for increased durability and continued high grip performance. MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, race one result: 1. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 2. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +1.154s 3. Tommy Bridewell (Tyco Honda) +2.667s 4. Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +2.764s 5. Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing) +3.408s 6. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +4.310s 7. Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +4.496s 8. Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +5.090s 9. Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +5.100s 10. Chris Walker (Pr1mo Racing Kawasaki) +7.728s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, race two result: 1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 2. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.142s 3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.598s 4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +4.463s 5. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +10.089s 6. Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +11.984s 7. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +13.048s 8. Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +13.897s 9. Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +18.431s 10. Gary Mason (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +18.473s MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Brands Hatch: 1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 45 2. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 41 3. Stuart Easton (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) 23 4. Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 20 5. Michael Rutter (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) 19