RD12 - Brands Hatch GP - MCE Insurance British Superbikes
Riders and teams of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship headed to Brands Hatch for the grand finale last weekend. With only 2 riders in the position to take the championship we were set for an epic battle between 3 time champions Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari. The war for four was well and truly on and Kiyo had only 12 points to make up to be in with a chance of beating Shakey. Tensions were high and the other title fighters plus the rest of the riders were all looking to impress in the hopes of securing sponsors and rides for next year. Needless to say everything was still to play for.
Fridays free practice sessions were dogged by bad weather. The rain fell for most of the morning and due to the humidity in the air the standing water took a long time to clear. In a very wet FP1 it was a surprise leader in the times in the shape of Howie Mainwaring, Kiyo and Shakey both opted to only do a few laps due to the conditions, Kiyo still managed to bag 4th in the times. By FP2 things had dried slightly and normal service was resumed with Shakey topping out the times after a tussle with Kiyo for the top spot. Kiyo ended up in fourth once again behind the returning to form Ellison and Brookes.
Saturday came and it was time for free practice 3. The conditions were once again not perfect with early morning rain leaving the track damp in places. All the riders headed out on track and began putting in lap times. On Kiyo's second lap he made an error and high-sided at Graham Hill Bend, in normal circumstances it wouldn't have been an issue but Kiyo fell badly on his collarbone and fractured it. He was taken straight to the medical centre but was ruled out of qualifying and race 1.
In a wet qualifying session we saw the usual suspects make it through to the top ten. The returning to form Ellison bagged his first ever MCE BSB pole position ahead of Shakey, Brookes and Jon Kirkham. With Kiyonari still undergoing medical care he didn't make qualifying or the start of race 1 which took place later that afternoon.
As we've seen on a number of occasions this year, rain began to fall just as the riders lined up on grid. The race was declared wet and there was a rush to change tyres before things got under way. Dan Linfoot and Shakey initially shot away from the line and the pair led the pack gingerly into Druids. Ellison who started from pole was swallowed up as was title fighter Josh Brookes. A few laps down the line Shakey gave way to Linfoot and let him lead, things were tense and the three times champion made an error crashing out at Clarkes Curve leaving the championship wide open again...if Kiyo raced on the second day. Josh 'Wildman' Waters who has become a favourite in the wet was once again making his way up the field. Jon Kirkham who also has been finding form in the later rounds followed the Australian to the front. Linfoot was unable to quell the pair's advances and gave way to them. Then almost out of nowhere Howie Mainwaring charged past them both and into the lead, the Quattro Plant rider had found some confidence and went onto win the race with ease. Tommy Bridewell got the better of his teammate Brookes finishing 5th meaning the gap between them in the battle for 3rd in the championship closed further.
On the second day the riders headed out for a damp warm up and Kiyo was once again not present. He decided to sit out warm up and consider the race when the time came. Title fighter Dan Linfoot took the fastest time beating off Josh Brookes.
Race 2 began and Kiyo had opted out due to the pain he was in. The hope was Shakey would make another mistake allowing Kiyo to throw a last hurrah in the final race, but it was not to be. Due to crashing out in the race the day before Shakey was down on the third row of the grid with Josh Brookes. Linfoot, Kirkham, Ellison and Mainwaring made the initial charge with Shakey far behind carving his way through. By lap nine Mainwaring was leading ahead of Ellison but it wasn't long before Shakey took the lead. Mainwaring did make a lunge on him but Shakey was far too strong and eventually gapped the rest sealing the win, and the title. Ellison and Mainwaring completed the podium in a show of true grit.
Race 3 and with the pressure off it was up to Shakey to put a show on for the fans. Both Milwaukee Yamaha's of Josh Brookes and Tommy Bridewell made chase as the champ streamed off the line, Ellison and Easton also followed. Brookes was piling the pressure on Shakey as he had nothing to lose...apart from 3rd place in the championship to his teammate Bridewell who waited for his moment. Brookes ran wide and Bridewell pounced also letting Ellison through. But then Tommy hit Shakey's back wheel at Druids slowing the pair and letting Ellison into the lead. Shakey was having none of it and quickly charged back to the front. The safety car was then brought out for debris on the track and only a few laps after it had gone back in the race was red flagged after Zanotti and Ponsson had a big crash. With Shakey in the lead he took the race win followed by Ellison and Bridewell, who did nick 3rd in the championship.
Celebrations then took place for the record breaking fourth time champion, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne. Consistently the best rider throughout the season Shakey's fourth title was well deserved even if the battle at the end was not what we were expecting.
In amongst all the racing Club MCE members took part in the final VIP experiences of the year including pillion laps, safety car laps in the Nissan GTR, a special hang out with Jon Kirkham, Howie Mainwaring, Josh Water and 2013 champ Alex Lowes, Official Pit Crew with Tsingtao Kawasaki, Grid walks, hospitality and more! To be part of Club MCE all you need is an MCE policy and to sign up here on the Club MCE app.
For more information on the series visit MCE Insurance British superbikes.
24.10.2014 - Big Ed