Round 12 - Brands Hatch GP - MCE Insurance British Superbikes

MCE Insurance

For the grand finale and round 12 of the MCE Insurance British Superbike series teams and riders headed back to the Brands Hatch GP circuit for a triple header to decide the championship. Going into the weekend reigning champ Shane 'Shakey' Byrne led the showdown standings but only by one point. His biggest rival and good friend Alex Lowes was the rider in second. James Ellison and Josh Brookes were pretty much out of the running for the title as each of them needed to win all three races and hope that Shakey and Alex had some offs to be able to catch them on points. James Westmoreland was just happy to be picking up points and hoped for his first MCE BSB podium. The sixth title fighter, Samsung Honda's Ryuichi Kiyonari missed the final round same as he did at Silverstone because of an injury picked up in motocross training.

The weather was set to be a huge factor all weekend as Brands offered up the first wet races of the season, this did not hinder the racing though, in fact at times it made it more exciting. This was a finale like no other, either Alex or Shakey could take the title with no one wanting to call's what I saw through my visor and the story of how we found our 2013 champion...


Qualifying as with most of the weekend was very wet. Unusually Josh Brookes was not the first rider out instead the Australian decided to wait and save tyres only coming out to complete a handful of flying laps, this paid off and he topped the times in Q1. It was incredibly greasy on track which proved a problem for Nori Haga on the Rapids Solicitors Kawasaki, he crashed out and his qualifying was over. His teammate Shakey then went off at the same corner, thankfully he managed to keep the bike upright and ran back gingerly onto the track from the grass. Lee Costello on the Halsall Racing Kawasaki was showing his worth in the wet and held second place in the times behind Brookes. The weather also seemed to be helping James Westmoreland who was also up the times. Westy's teammate Jon Kirkham then crashed out but the bike wasn't too damaged so the Buildbase BMW team sprang into action to get it fixed before Q2. There was a real tussle to get into Q2 with a number of riders swapping the final qualifying place a few times. Mainwaring crashed out and sadly for him his time was beaten, De Boer on the Bathams Honda was close but just got tipped to the spot by Baiocco who also pushed out Haga. The other drops from Q1 were Zanotti, Jessopp, Burrell, Tinmouth, Linortner and Poole. Q2 started and all the riders came out minus Jon Kirkham whose bike was still being put back together. Title fighters Shakey and Lowes topped the times in the mid session with Costello and Brookes eventually taking them. It was not a good session for Milwaukee Yamaha as Ellison had visor issues and Bridewell just wasn't on the pace, neither of them qualified for Q3. The other drops were Smrz, Rutter, Kirkham, Walker, Hickman, and Foray. There wasn't much drama in Q3 and the riders finished in this order ready for race 1 later that day. Brookes took pole followed by Shakey, Lowes, Waters, Harris, Costello, Linfoot, Westmoreland, PJ and Baiocco.

Race 1

Race 1 was a go and Brookes followed on from his qualifying form with a great start from pole, he led Shakey, Waters, Lowes and Costello. New man David Linortner then crashed out on his Motodex Spearmint Rhino BMW, he was ok but not the best start to his MCE BSB career. Brookes within no time had built a 2 and a half second gap from the rest of the pack. Alex had also been on the move and passed Josh Waters moving him behind the one man he needed to beat, Shakey. Ellison who started back in 16th had done well in the early laps to move up the positions, he now sat in 8th behind Chris 'the Stalker' Walker. By lap 8 Brookes was still leading Shakey, Lowes and Waters, those four riders were miles ahead of the rest of the field. It was then more bad luck for Ellison as his visor again started to steam up, slowly he started dropping positions. His teammate Tommy Bridewell was moving in the other direction; he passed Costello and moved into 7th, his next target was the Stalker. Lap 14 and Alex made his move on Shakey, with a clean pass he was in front and leading the championship. Ellison who was still having issues with his visor then retired, his championship chances were over, his run of bad luck all season finished him off right to the bitter end. In the last few laps Alex found some pace from somewhere and started to gap Shakey and chase down Brookes, he didn't have quite enough laps though and the out spoken Australian took the win. The championship standings at this point left Alex winning by 3 points.

Race 1 Results

  1. Josh BROOKES - Tyco Suzuki
  2. Alex LOWES - Samsung Honda
  3. Shane BYRNE - Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
  4. Josh WATERS - Halsall Racing Kawasaki
  5. PJ JACOBSEN - Tyco Suzuki
  6. Tommy BRIDEWELL - Milwaukee Yamaha
  7. Chris WALKER- Quattro Plant Kawasaki
  8. James WESTMORELAND - Buildbase BMW
  9. Lee COSTELLO - Halsall Racing Kawasaki
  10. Michael RUTTER - Bathams Honda

Race 2

Sunday came and it was time for the penultimate race of the season. Brookes once again started from pole on what would be a race decided by tyre choice. It had been raining once again but the track was drying in places. From the off it was clear that the boys on full wets had the advantage as Ellison, Westy and Costello all sped off into the distance. Alex and Shakey had made the same tyre selection as Brookes, intermediates. This proved bad for Alex as on the first lap when they went into turn three he had a touch with Brookes which sent him off the bike and into the gravel. You could see what it meant to him, it looked as if he had just gifted Shakey the championship. The race continued with Shakey hovering mid table, he had a real chance to get a good lead over Alex so needed to perform well. The wet conditions proved too much for Worlds legend Haga and he crashed out on his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, his race was over. The 3 out in front were really starting to gap the rest of the field on their full wets. Costello was having the race of his life and was battling hard with Ellison for the lead. The pressure got to James and he ran wide letting Lee take the lead in his first ever MCE BSB race. Westmoreland also came past him and took second position. Bridewell who was pushing mid table then crashed out at Druids followed by Shakey who also crashed out. That left Shakey still 3 points behind Alex in the championship; it was still all to play for. Costello was leading like a pro from the front and starting to gap Westy and Ellison, at this point the leaders were 19 seconds ahead of the rest. There was a spate of fallers and retirements at the mid point of the race with Waters and Poole both crashing out and Jenny and Harris retiring. Ellison re-took the lead around lap 12 from Costello and Westmoreland had started to drop off. Brookes now led the rest of the riders a whole 20 seconds back but his intermediates were starting to work for him and his Tyco Suzuki. Lap 16 and Costello was back past Ellison and into the lead. He was riding one hell of a race. Brookes who was now eating into the gap created by the leaders was getting closer and closer to Westy. Before long he was on his back wheel and past him, he now just had two more to chase down. Final lap and Brookes closed the gap, passed Ellison and then Costello on the final corner stealing the rookie's first win.

Race 2 Results

  1. Josh BROOKES - Tyco Suzuki
  2. Lee COSTELLO - Halsall Racing Kawasaki
  3. James ELLISON - Milwaukee Yamaha
  4. James WESTMORELAND - Buildbase BMW
  5. Chris WALKER- Quattro Plant Kawasaki
  6. PJ JACOBSEN - Tyco Suzuki
  7. Dan LINFOOT - GBmoto Honda
  8. Jon KIRKHAM - Buildbase BMW
  9. Jakub SMRZ- Padgetts Honda
  10. Freddie FORAY- Samsung Honda

Race 3

The final race of the season was set to be a thriller but from the off it looked like the championship could already be decided. Because Alex crashed out before he posted a time in race 2 there is a rule that means in the next race he'd start 8 positions back from where he qualified in the race before meaning he started from 9th on the grid. Shakey meanwhile did post some times before he crashed out, not very good ones, so he was left starting from 22nd on the grid. Unless Shakey did some serious work from the back it could all be over and Alex would take the title. It was a full wet race once again and Brookes who started from pole continued his domination of the weekend and steamed off into the distance followed by Walker, Kirkham, Linfoot, Lowes, Ellison, Waters, Westy and PJ. Shakey had a great start and moved up into 13th, within a lap he was past more riders including Westmoreland, which put him in 8th; he really was pushing himself and his motorbike to the limits. Lowes was also on the move passing Linfoot and moving into 4th, Kirkham also passed Walker and took 2nd place. Before long Shakey was on Waters tail in 7th and then past him, he now sat at the back of the group that Alex led, all he had to do was get to the front. Ellison at this point had a massive moment and he had to give up two places to the riders behind him. Linfoot had also passed Walker and moved into 3rd but little did he know Shakey was following. The reigning champ passed Walker and set his sights on Dan, within no time at all he was in front of him too and finally behind Alex, the championship was back on, unbelievably with 14 laps still to go. Alex and Shakey who began to fight for the championship passed Kirkham on the Buildbase BMW and tussled for 2nd place. Shakey went past the young title contender and for the first time all weekend was back in the winning seat. Lap 9 and Brookes was miles ahead of the rest, why he chose to find his form this weekend so late in the showdown I'll never know. Shakey still sat in 2nd with Alex following, behind him lay Kirkham, Linfoot, Waters and Bridewell who was getting faster and faster. Kirkham then had a moment and ran wide; luckily he kept it upright but rejoined the track in 10th. Lowes was turning up the heat on Shakey and posted the fastest lap time of the race. Mainwaring and Burrell had enough at this point after their poor weekend of results and both retired to the pits. Bridewell had done the business and was now coming up behind Shakey and Alex closing the gap a second a lap. With 4 laps to go Alex made his move on Shakey, he cut past him on an inside line and the old master had to give way. Both Alex and Shakey had numerous big moments with back ends sliding all over the place as they both pushed themselves in their attempts to take the title, Bridewell had caught them but respectfully held off letting the title fighters battle it out. Final lap and Shakey was still right on Alex's back wheel, he pushed hard into Druids and made a slight mistake running wide, this gave Alex a clear advantage and he charged all the way to the finish line leaving Shakey behind and taking the title. Brookes who had finished a couple of seconds before won the race.

Race 3 Results

  1. Josh BROOKES - Tyco Suzuki
  2. Alex LOWES - Samsung Honda
  3. Shane BYRNE - Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki
  4. Tommy BRIDEWELL - Milwaukee Yamaha
  5. James ELLISON - Milwaukee Yamaha
  6. Jon KIRKHAM - Buildbase BMW
  7. James WESTMORELAND - Buildbase BMW
  8. Josh WATERS - Halsall Racing Kawasaki
  9. Chris WALKER- Quattro Plant Kawasaki
  10. Dan LINFOOT - GBmoto Honda

Club MCE members who visited Brands Hatch had a great couple of days enjoying all sorts of benefits and experiences including, Official Pit Crew with Tyco Suzuki, grid walks, VIP hospitality, priority pit walks and Safety car laps to name a few. Some lucky Club members got to make use of the MCE Superview, watching the racing from pit wall and the Brands Tower. 'Hang out with a rider' took place with Tommy Bridewell in the Milwaukee garage with some interesting insights into his season and the future for the aggressive youngster. A fantastic weekend had by all!

So that was it, the young talent of Alex Lowes had overcome the experience of the old master Shane Byrne. Alex was very overwhelmed post race and looked totally shell shocked, Shakey and him are good friends and it was nice to see the 3 times champ say he couldn't have lost to a better man. So what does this mean for Alex and Shakey? And of course the rest of the riders and teams? Keep up to date with Big Ed's Facebook for all the off season news and gossip. Here's till next year!

Final Showdown Standings

  1. 22 Alex LOWES - Samsung Honda - 643
  2. 67 Shane BYRNE - Rapid Soliticitors Kawasaki - 636
  3. 2 Josh BROOKES - Tyco Suzuki - 621
  4. 77 James ELLISON - Milwaukee Yamaha - 589
  5. 27 James WESTMORELAND- Buildbase BMW - 564
  6. 23 Ryuichi KIYONARI - Samsung Honda - 522

For full race results visit the MCE BSB Website

17.10.13 - MCE Insurance

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