Alex Lowes and Shane Byrne entertained a massive Brands Hatch crowd to cap an epic season long battle, as Lowes became the youngest ever British Superbike Champion.
In a complete reversal of the previous 11 rounds, the vast majority of the weekend’s action took place on full wet and intermediate tyres with only Friday’s free practice session held on slicks.
The first and final races of the weekend were carried out on 100% full wet Diablo ‘Rain’ tyres but in another season first, the middle outing was effectively decided by tyre choice. Much of the grid again used full ‘wets’ but Lowes and Byrne opted for wet fronts and intermediate rears. Brookes chose intermediates at both ends, ultimately the correct decision as the track dried in the latter stages.
Importantly, the fastest lap of each race was logged on either the last or penultimate lap as the inters and full wets lasted the distance in these difficult conditions.
The final MCE British Superbike Championship certainly lived up to its dramatic build-up as after a season of dry races the hilltop Kentish venue experienced the full onslaught of Britain’s weather.
Josh Brookes set his stool out for the weekend early, as he took his first pole position of the season in a wet Datatag Extreme Qualifying, with a 1:37.078 lap, a full half second faster than Shane Byrne.
The first of the three Superbike races was held just a few hours later, with the entire grid lined up on fully wet tyres. Shakey was first off the line into the legendary Paddock Hill Bend but was quickly overhauled by a determined Brookes. By lap six riders started logging their fastest laps of the race on every circulation. Lowes followed Byrne all race before overtaking him on lap 14, to hunt down runaway leader Brookes. Despite lapping nearly two seconds quicker, Lowes had to settle for second as he then took the series lead by three points.
Sunday’s opening race proved treacherous with a wet but quickly track that caught out many riders, including dramatically both Lowes and Byrne, falling at Druids on lap one and six respectively. Lee Costello of Halsall Racing was an unlikely leader of as he and Ellison traded blows, with both on full wet ‘Rain’ tyres. However it was Josh Brookes who timed his run to perfection on Intermediate tyres as the circuit dried out, to haul in the leaders, pipping Costello with a tighter line through the final Clearways corner.
Whilst Brookes lined up on pole for the final, fully wet, race Lowes and Byrne were positioned an uncharacteristic ninth and twenty-second after their previous race accidents. As the aggressive Australian again powered through the rain drenched circuit to pull out an unassailable lead, all eyes were on the title protagonists. Both riders scythed through the pack at an incredible pace to end up together on lap sixth in second and third, only to swap poison as Byrne manoeuvred past.
Mirroring race one, Lowes then shadowed the Brands master before pouncing at Graham Hill Bend on the sixteenth lap. The race seemed far from over as Shakey tried every move to hang on and pass the youngster but it was to no avail.
A jubilant Lowes was mobbed by his team and supporters after a truly epic battle both in the race and all season long, with his mutually respected rival.
Pirelli Marketing Manager Jim Worland commented, “What an incredible weekend of racing to cap a truly fantastic season. Congratulations to the new Champion Alex as he took on a legend in the BSB paddock. From our point of view it’s been a very successful season with good, close racing to usher out the end of the 16.5 era as we change to 17 inch tyres for 2014.
Off the track it’s been another great year of partnership with this prestigious series, enabling us to promote the new Angel GT tyres which have gone onto win the MCN Tyre of the Year award and also to bring motorcycle clubs to the events to learn more about Pirelli and BSB.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch
Race one result:
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki)
Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.968s
Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +5.709s
Josh Waters (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +16.821s
PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +22.890s
Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +24.345s
Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +25.538s
James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +27.731s
Lee Costello (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +29.917s
Michael Rutter (Bathams Honda) +30.394s
Race two result:
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki)
Lee Costello (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +0.196s
James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.728s
James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +9.127s
Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +16.826s
PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki) +17.198s
Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +30.805s
Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +41.399s
Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda) +48.080s
Freddy Foray (Samsung Honda) +51.836s
Race three result:
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki)
Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +1.185s
Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +2.587s
Tommy Bridewell (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +4.869s
James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +13.521s
Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +16.282s
James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +16.282s
Josh Waters (Halsall Racing Kawasaki) +17.186s
Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +17.387s
Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +20.027s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship final standings:
Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 643
Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 636
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 621
James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) 589
James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) 564
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) 522