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Byrne And Easton Impress At Donington

The Penrith-based Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team enjoyed a strong weekend at round nine of the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship at Donington Park this weekend with Shane 'Shakey' Byrne adding two more second place finishes to his haul of podiums and team-mate Stuart Easton having his best weekend since his home round at Knockhill back in June.

Triple MCE BSB Champion Byrne was again in excellent form on his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and, having already sealed his place in the Showdown, this weekend was all about picking up as many vital Podium Points as possible to ensure he went into the final three rounds with a decent advantage over his Title Fighter rivals. However, the Isle of Sheppey-based Londoner found fellow triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari a tough nut to crack and eventually had to settle for two second place finishes behind the Japanese star.

In front of a big crowd in the autumn sunshine, there was little to separate the two riders in either of the two 20 lap races with the duo never more than half a second apart. Shakey led for much of the first race but the pair swapped places on numerous occasions towards the end with the Japanese rider eventually taking a narrow win.

In the second race held later in the day, the BMW rider led from start to finish despite Shakey putting him under intense pressure throughout and again there was little in it with less than half a second between the two after yet another hard fought race meaning Byrne settled for his 18th podium out of the 19 races run so far.

37-year-old Byrne now enters the Showdown part of the championship whereby the top six riders are elevated to Title Fighter status meaning their scores are reset to 500 to which are added the Podium Points which have been accrued over the season (five for a win, three for second place and one for third) meaning Shakey heads to Assen on 562, 26 ahead of Josh Brookes on 536 who in turn is one ahead of Kiyonari (535).

Team-mate Easton's faint hopes of reaching the Showdown ended in the first race at Donington but the Hawick rider went down fighting with two of his best rides of the year. The 30 year old Scot was never out of the top six all weekend and, after qualifying in fourth place, the 2013 British Supersport Champion occupied third for much of the first race and although he slipped back to fifth by the time of the chequered flag, he was only four seconds adrift of the race win and it set him up for more of the same in race two.

Another excellent start to the race saw him hold onto third for almost two thirds race distance but with the grip from his soft tyre tailing off as the race wore on, he was nudged off the podium by Josh Brookes. Nevertheless, he crossed the line in a fine fourth for his best result since Knockhill and although he can no longer contest the main championship, he remains in seventh overall and leads the race for the BSB Riders Cup competition with a 19 point advantage over James Ellison.

Shane Byrne: "Today's first race was great fun and I really, really enjoyed it. The temperature was hotter than it had been all weekend so I tried to lead and set a good pace but not one that was too quick so it would damage the tyres for the end of the race. When Kiyo came by, I decided to sit on his back wheel and I had a plan to try and beat him which didn't quite happen. I couldn't be that close to him and not have a go though so dived up the inside at Goddards on the final lap only to run wide. I tried to cut back but was a bit eager on the throttle so had to take second place. In the second race, Kiyo set an incredible pace and my plan was to overtake him on the last lap at the Old Hairpin but I nearly launched myself into orbit coming out of Redgate and that pretty much ended my chances. I pushed over the limit to try and close back up to him and whilst I got close it wasn't close enough. It was a bit frustrating not to win this weekend but I've extended my lead in the Podium Points and we go into the Showdown in a strong position so thank you to all my team for doing a great job again."

Stuart Easton: "At the recent test at Assen, we made a change with the chassis setting which helped me immensely and after qualifying, I was less than a quarter of a second off pole and fifth on the grid set me up for race day. I opted for the soft tyre in both races which helped in the first half of the race but wasn't so good in the second. However, with a strong pace at the beginning of each race, it allowed me to build a gap over the riders behind me and secure two, good top five finishes. To finish fourth and fifth today is more like where I need to be and, hopefully, I can build on it to get a shot at the podium at Assen in two weeks' time."

Paul Bird: "Shakey put in another consistent performance and you certainly can't knock his consistency or the team's reliability. When you can't win, second is the next best thing and we are looking strong going into the Showdown. We have a race in hand now and all the other teams would love to be in our position, the pressure is on them and not us. Stuart rode really well and I'm pleased for him. I was going to put Michael Laverty out in The Showdown to help us but on Stuart's performance we don't need to as on this form, he'll be in the mix at Assen."

MCE British Superbike Championship Race One - 20 laps
1 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
2 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
3 Tommy Bridewell (Yamaha)
4 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
5 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
6 Josh Waters (Suzuki)

MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two - 20 laps
1 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
2 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
3 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
4 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
5 Josh Waters (Suzuki)
6 Julien Da Costa (Honda)

Championship Points (after nine rounds)
1 Byrne 562pts
2 Brookes 536
3 Kiyonari 535
4 Bridewell 508
5 Walker 505
6 Linfoot 501
7 Easton 150

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki MCE British Superbike Championship Team is running alongside the PBM MotoGP Team with riders Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes. Additionally, Paul Bird is running a full campaign in the REIS BTRDA Rally Series as well as selected International events in his Ford Focus WRC07. Both bike racing teams are sporting the colours of British Racing Green in deference to the team's proud British heritage.


Photographs: Jon Jessop Photograph