Posted: 26 Apr 2011
RACE 1: Shaky returns in style
The first race of the 2011 British Superbike Championship season had all the hallmarks of a great racing and the crowds didn’t leave disappointed.
Race one saw Shane ‘Shaky’ Bryne return to the BSB stage from WSB duties and possibly set the tone for the season with a thrilling ride after a restarted race to take the top spot on the podium.
But it didn’t look as if it would go his way in the early stages when Swan Yamaha rider Michael Laverty took up the challenge on lap 2 and nosed ahead. Behind him, Byrne on the HM Plant Honda, Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) and Byrne’s team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari were all chasing hard.
Lap 8 saw Kiyonari drop out of the race with mechanical issues. And on lap 11 it all went wrong for Laverty coming out of Clark Curve when he high-sided in spectacular fashion. In the ensuing melee, Bryne was forced to shut off and Hill took to the Gravel. This sequence of events led to the appearance of the safety car.
With the safety car returning to pit lane, the new race order of Stuart Easton in front and Bryne in second place provided some exciting overtaking before Byrne eventually retook the lead on lap 17 and held the front spot until the flag.
Taking the four positions behind Byrne were Hill, who had charged through the field from 11th place, Tommy Bridewell on the Tyco Honda, Easton and John Kirkham.
RACE 2: BYRNE GOES FOR DOUBLE TOP
Race two almost looked like a repeat win was on the cards for Byrne when he grabbed the lead from the start. But Tommy Hill was playing a waiting game with controlled riding in Byrnes’ rear tyre track. Lap 14 saw Hill put in a daring passing move at Druids, which stuck to put the Yamaha man in front.
Reigning champion Kiyonari passed a fading Laverty on lap 22 and chased hard after Byrne and Hill.
Byrne went for the win on the penultimate lap and passed Hill at Paddock Hill bend, but his passing effort caused him to run wide and Hill retook the lead, with Kiyonari following to also pass Byrne. Kiyonari harried Hill on the last lap all the way to the finishing line. Hill rightly claimed the winners’ podium but only by 1/10th of a second.
Bryne came home in third ahead of Laverty, while Suzuki mounted American John Hopkins showed his intent with a creditable fifth. Hill leads the championship by a slender margin going into Round 2 at Oulton Park.