Alex Lowes takes the British Superbike Championship title at Brands Hatch ahead of Shane 'Shakey' Byrne
Shane Byrne lost his British Superbike crown during a thrilling finale at a wet Brands Hatch.
Sittingbourne’s Byrne powered his way from 22nd on the grid to second place at one stage of the final race, to lead the championship by a single point from Alex Lowes.
But Lincoln’s Samsung Honda rider Lowes snatched second place back from Byrne, as the two jostled for the British title.
That second place finish for Lowes, ahead of third-placed Byrne, was enough for him to take the championship for the first time ahead of the Kent man.
“We both had so many moments and all credit to him,” said Byrne, following his final race battle.
“I am absolutely devastated for the crowd and the championship that the last race had to be in sketchy conditions because I think the crowd would have got far more from the weekend but ultimately Alex put it on the line and finished across the line infront of me and he is the champion.
“It has been a pleasure to race with him this year, it’s probably been one of the most fun seasons I’ve ever had, so thanks to him (Lowes) for that and congratulations for him winning the championship.”
Title winner Alex Lowes (left) and Shane Byrne display their trophies Picture: Simon Hildrew
Lowes and Byrne went into the weekend with just one point separating them in the championship.
On Saturday, during race one, Lowes extended the lead fractionally, stretching it to three points as he came second behind Josh Brookes, with Byrne third.
Race one on Sunday saw both Lowes and Byrne crash out, as Josh Brookes took the race win ahead of Lee Costello and James Ellison.
Those crashes for Lowes and Byrne meant the pair started the season finale in unfamiliar positions. Lowes started in 9th while Byrne was way back in 22nd.
Byrne made up 10 places inside the opening two laps and breezed through the pack, soon closing in on Lowes.
By lap seven he had taken second place off Lowes and at that point was back ahead in the championship.
For a short time Shane Byrne was leading Alex Lowes on the track and in the championship
On the next lap Byrne nearly lost it in Clearways, as his back-end stepped out on a wet track, but he held on to maintain second place and managed to gain some breathing space.
"I honestly didn’t even know I was in second for a long time," said Byrne.
"I knew I had to beat Alex and Alex had to beat me. I got infront of him and saw p2 and I thought, 'if I am p2 and he is p3, then that’s enough' and I couldn’t believe it because I had come from so far back."
Lowes wasn’t giving up and began to eat away at Byrne’s advantage. By three-quarters distances he was eyeing a way past, eventually re-taking second on lap 16 and with it the championship lead.
"The whole way I was thinking, 'he is going to nip through at any moment' and when he did I couldn’t just roll over, I had to try and have a go," said Byrne.
The two continued to battle as Tommy Bridewell came up behind but that’s the way it stayed at the end, with Josh Brookes winning ahead of Lowes – the new champion – and Byrne in third, just 2.6 seconds behind his title rival.
Lowes eventually won the championship by just seven points ahead of Byrne.
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