New 2013 soft Pirelli Superbike SC1 rear tyre goes the distance on super fast, abrasive circuit
Alex Lowes and Shane Byrne continued their incredible season long battle at Silverstone, to leave the MCE British Superbike Championship on a single point knife edge going into the Brands Hatch finale.
The Silverstone race event started with rain on Friday as all riders took to the circuit with Diablo ‘Rain’ tyres in the first free practice session. The rest of the weekend remained dry as the series continued its almost unbelievable season long run of dry races. After the mixed conditions of Friday, Saturday was always going to be crucial for set-up and race simulations.
Last year Lowes took a double win with the harder Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC2 rear tyre whilst the majority of riders (including then runner-up Byrne) used the softer SC1 option. This time around all riders used the 2013 spec SC1 softer rear with its wider operating characteristics, once again proving its versatility.
The vast majority of riders again used the softer SC1 front tyre with the exception of the usual suspects Kirkham, Westmoreland and Hickman, who opted for the SC2. Interestingly the Milwaukee Yamaha squad tested the SC2 in practice with both James Ellison and Tommy Bridewell trying but opting for the SC1 in race conditions.
Shane Byrne suffered a spectacular accident early in Saturday free practice, landing awkwardly and injuring his leg. As speculation mounted over his involvement in the rest of the weekend, he appeared on crutches for the three part Datatag Extreme Qualifying session. After struggling into the final Q3 cut off in ninth, he then shocked the paddock with a gutsy fast lap to secure second position on the grid. Almost inevitably Lowes took yet another pole position, by an impressive margin of half a second.
Both races started with a Shakey holeshot before Lowes attacked early in the first lap to take the lead. In race one the duo were joined by Josh Brookes who then suffered a technical DNF, effectively ending his title aspirations. This left two pairs of riders fighting for their positions as an impressive PJ Jacobsen and Bridewell battled for the final podium spot, with the latter coming out on top. The final lap was an incredible spectacle as Lowes and Byrne traded high speed moves on each other that had fans and team managers gasping with excitement. As the duelling duo raced through the long last Woodcote corner Lowes edged out his rival by just 0.094 seconds to take a deserved victory and the series lead.
Race two saw the same protagonists plus Ellison turn into a high speed, six man freight train of riders, slipstreaming each other down the long Silverstone straights. The two title fighters again traded the lead in spectacular fashion and in an almost identical finish, they crossed the line together for Byrne to win by an closer 0.012 seconds!
As the Championship lead transferred back to the clearly pained Byrne by just one point, the scene was set for an incredible climax at the Brands Hatch triple header, with seventy five points on the line.
It was another fantastic race weekend for the Lowes family as twin brother Sam took the World Supersport Championship title in Magny Cours.
Pirelli Racing Manager Jason Griffiths commented, “Friday morning’s opening session saw us using Diablo Rain tyres and for the afternoon session the track was dry and immediately the rear Diablo Superbike SC1 solution coped comfortably with the Silverstone circuit. Race distance was not an issue further demonstrating the step forward we made with the compound this year. We now prepare for what will be an incredible Superbike finale at Brands Hatch. Both of this weekend’s Supersport races were epic with multiple riders battling for the wins and the title fight between Easton and Seeley will continue at Brands. ”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Silverstone
Race one result:
1. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda)
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.094s
3. Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +8.372s
4. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +8.605s
5. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +14.407s
6. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +15.568s
7. Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +20.292s
8. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +21.619s
9. Matteo Baiocco (Rapido Sport Racing Ducati) +23.918s
10. Barry Burrell (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +30.307s
Race two result:
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.012s
3. Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +3.686s
4. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +6.916s
5. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +7.507s
6. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +7.597s
7. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +14.060s
8. Matteo Baiocco (Rapido Sport Racing Ducati) +22.419s
9. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +23.609s
10. Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda) +26.118s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings
1. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 604
2. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 603
3. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 562
4. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 546
5. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) 534
6. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 522
Final round: Brands Hatch – 18-20 October