Successful weekend for british sport as Lowes and Byrne exchange wins at scorching Snetterton Superbikes
Red hot temperatures and high speed circuit prove tough yet successful test for 2013 spec Pirelli SC1 softer rear tyre
As Britain enjoyed a long awaited start to its Summer, high temperatures tested the nerve of the leading BSB racers for Alex Lowes and Shane Byrne to take a win apiece at Snetterton.
With hot, dry weather throughout all three days of track action the big question for teams was which front tyre to use for the two 16 lap races. Although Lowes tried the harder rear SC2 Pirelli compound in practice, all Superbike riders used the softer SC1 in the races. Conversely Lowes used the SC1 soft front tyre whilst Brookes and Byrne opted for the harder front option, with Byrne trying this for the very first time in race one, however he too reverted to the SC1 for the second outing.
The super hot temperatures combined with the fast 180mph back straight was always going to set a hard test for the tyres and indeed, tyre management was a factor.
Lowes and Byrne traded the top spot throughout practice but it was in the latter stages of final qualifying where the pace was really stepped up. In the short Q3 session Lowes set an unmatchable 1:48.106 lap time which was 0.4 seconds faster than his Kentish rival and a full second quicker than Brookes in third.
Josh Brookes took the early lead in the first race from Byrne before a three lap pace car intermission bunched the field. Lowes attacked first Byrne then Brookes to lead on lap five and then proceeded to eke out a small gap, which went up to 0.8 seconds by lap eight.
Behind him the pack bunched with Brookes-Byrne-Ellison-Kiyonari dicing close with each other. In the closing stages Byrne closed to the back of Brookes and looked set to overwhelm the Australian but in the end he was held off by just 0.043 seconds as Lowes took the win. A thrilling nine way battle for sixth kept spectators enthralled.
Race two started explosively as Lowes ‘bogged down’ off the startline giving Shakey the holeshot, before a nasty looking lap one accident between Jon Kirkham and Robbin Harms necessitated a pace car introduction. After five laps behind the Pirelli equipped Nissan GT-R, Shakey slowed across the line and then accelerated hard to gap his opponents. Lowes became the main beneficiary of this manoeuvre as he moved into third position.
A three rider breakaway of Byrne-Brookes-Lowes again moved away from the rest of the field. Brookes eventually took a lunge at Byrne but ran off track, leaving Shakey and Lowes to battle on alone. Shakey held off the young pretender to take his seventh win of the season and retain an impressive 32 point gap in the title stakes.
Pirelli Racing Manager Jason Griffiths commented, “It has certainly been a great weekend for British sport! High track temperatures and the varied circuit layout here at Snetterton combined to test the performance of the Pirelli tyres. Lap times remained remarkably consistent considering the extreme heat, allowing the top riders to battle until the finish line. We saw the SC2 front solution come into play for Brookes and Byrne as a result of the testing conditions this weekend.
In Supersport the Diablo Supercorsa SC0 rear solution was in its element with the high track temperatures and was used by the majority of the field. Congratulations to Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki) on a dominant performance in both races.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Knockhill
Race one result:
1. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda)
2. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +1.984s
3. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +2.027s
4. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +2.523s
5. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +6.009s
6. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +20.065s
7. Robbin Harms (Doodson Motorsport Honda) +20.349s
8. Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda) +20.654s
9. Josh Waters (Milwaukee Yamaha) +20.926s
10. Matteo Baiocco (Rapido Sport Racing Ducati) +21.081s
Race two result:
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.245s
3. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +7.018s
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +7.868s
5. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +8.587s
6. Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +12.961s
7. Josh Waters (Milwaukee Yamaha) +18.218s
8. Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +21.370s
9. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +21.483s
10. Matteo Baiocco (Rapido Sport Racing Ducati) +22.775s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 207
2. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 175
3. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 172
4. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 100
5. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 83
6. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) 81
Next round: Brands Hatch , 19th – 21st July