RD4 - Knockhill - MCE Insurance British Superbikes
Teams and riders of the MCE Insurance British superbikes headed north of the border to Scotland's premiere racing circuit Knockhill for round 4 of the championship at the weekend. Going into the round Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was leading the standings with 5 wins out of 6 and most expected him to continue his run of dominance at the Scottish circuit where he achieved a double win the year before.
As the weekend kicked off on Friday it was clear things were not going to be as easy for Shakey as everyone first thought. Free practice 1 and it was three times champion Ryuichi Kiyonari who led the times and dominated the session. The Japanese rider has struggled to find form since his return to the series last year with Samsung Honda. He'd been a Honda rider his whole career until dramatically switching to Buildbase BMW this season. In the opening rounds he has performed well but has been dogged by the odd technical issue. This weekend though was different, he was at one with the bike and looked so much faster than anyone else in the field, even Shakey.
Shakey managed to bag the top time in FP2 but Kiyo was hot on his heels. By Saturday's FP3 it was clear Shakey was not 100% happy with his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki and he told fans he was only 'liking' and not 'loving' riding her. Kiyo went on to take the top spot in that session too. Qualifying in the afternoon was very dramatic with rain affecting some of the sessions. Brookes, Shakey and Kiyo all battled for pole and Josh was sure he secured it with a super fast lap near the end of the final session. But Kiyonari snatched it from him in the closing moments by a mere 0.004 seconds.
Race 1 kicked off and Kiyo charged off the line and into the lead. In comparison Shakey had a poor start which he put down to looking at the wrong lights. Either way Kiyo was off, within a few laps he had already started to gap the rest and he continued to build that gap all the way till the end of the race. Shakey did lead a late charge to catch him but it was too little too late and Kiyo finished 5 seconds ahead of the championship leader. Not only was it's Kiyo's first win since 2011 it was also the first BMW to ever win in MCE BSB.
The grid lined up for race 2 and this time it was Shakey who sat ahead of Kiyo. In true Shakey style he led into turn 1 and started to build himself a gap, or so he thought. Kiyo caught up to him in no time and began tailing him trying to find a way past. At about mid race distance he made a lunge up the inside of Shakey at the hairpin, it paid off and he took the lead. A lap later though and he lost rear grip almost throwing himself and the bike down the track, luckily he managed to hold her steady but he lost a lot of drive which gave Shakey the perfect opportunity to take the lead. Kiyo was now almost a second and half behind Shakey and it looked like that would be the end of things. But the resurgent Kiyo made another charge for Shakey and caught him up in no laps at all. With 5 laps to go he was back on his rear wheel looking to pass. He made a few attempts but just couldn't find a way through and Shakey eventually took the win.
The Milwaukee Yamahas of Josh Brookes and Tommy Bridewell had a difficult weekend at Knockhill. Both riders seemed on the pace during free practice and qualifying but when it came to the races they disappeared into the field and never looked like challenging for the win. Josh got tangled up in both races with Chris Walker and Stuart Easton and unusually was unable to take the fight back to them. Knockhill is a difficult circuit to pass at but even Brookes admitted he was unsure why he couldn't keep the pace. In both races he finished just under the podium spots in fourth.Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki riders James Ellison and Chris Walker had completely different weekends. Ellison looked good all through free practice and qualifying but on lap 2 of race 1 he was knocked off when he and Stuart Easton came together at the hairpin. Easton went onto take 3rd place in the race at his home round but was penalised three places on the grid for race 2 because of the incident. Sadly for Ellison though he hadn't posted a fast lap time and had to start from way back on the grid. He battled hard though and worked his way through the field to eventually finish in 8th position, certainly not what he wanted from the weekend. For the Stalker it was almost an opposite situation, he crashed out in free practice breaking a rib and two fingers. But in the races he not only managed to race full distance with his injuries but he also got himself onto the podium in race 2 securing his place in the top six, for now.
Tyco Suzuki had yet another poor weekend with both John Hopkins and Josh Waters unable to challenge for top ten positions. Hopkins came in too early in Q2 according to his team manager Phillip Neill which left him open to loosing his spot in Q3 which he did when Smrz put in a fast lap at the end of the session. This left the American way back on the grid for Race 1 which he never really recovered from. Expect things to change very soon in the Tyco camp if the results don't start coming, in fact things may already be changing if rumours are true.
Dan Linfoot on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki had yet another consistent weekend finishing 6th and 7th in the races. He continues to finish in these positions and just can't get up to the pace of the top boys. His consistency over the season though has kept in contention for a top six place, at the moment he sits in 8th behind Easton.
In amongst all the racing Club MCE members took part in fantastic VIP experiences including pillion laps Superstockers Davo Johnson and Jimmy Storrar, safety car laps in the Nissan GTR driven by Naill Mackenzie, hang out with Dan Linfoot, Official Pit Crew with TAG Anvil Hire Kawasaki, Grid walks 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.
We haven't got long to wait till the return to Brands Hatch for round 5. This time we'll be on the full GP circuit and I'm sure Shakey will want to stomp out any charge being planned by Kiyo at his home round. Expect Brookes and Ellison to be back on and fighting too, but as always with MCE BSB anything could happen! Keep up to date with Big Ed's Facebook for all the live updates, news and gossip around the paddock.
For more information on the series visit MCE Insurance British superbikes.
03.07.2014 - Big Ed