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Shane Byrne records first podium finish of season in MCE Insurance British Superbike Championships

By Alex Hoad

Shane Byrne

Shane Byrne's indifferent start to the 2012 MCE Insurance British Superbike season continued at round two – but the Sittingbourne rider left Thruxton confident smooth progress is just around the corner.

Two-time former BSB champion Byrne (pictured) admitted he was struggling to get to grips with his new Kawasaki machinery at the season-opener at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday, finishing the only race possible in seventh.

And there were more teething problems at Thruxton with the 35-year-old proven race winner forced to settle for an almost unheard of qualifying display of 15th.

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider recovered more than a little pride on race day, ending race one just outside the podium positions in fourth before picking up his first taste of the podium champagne of the season with third in the second contest.

And while quick to acknowledge there is plenty of hard work still to come Byrne insisted his first podium appearance was something to celebrate.

"I'm not happy but a podium is a lot better than what I got in the first race," said Byrne. "You have to be positive and I've got a podium credit at last.

"It was really nice to be fighting in the race up at the front after a disappointing fourth in the first race.

"But to be honest I didn't want to lead in race two because of the pace and wear on the tyres. I just tried to be as smooth and as fast as possible. But I lost a bit of grip towards the end which let Tommy (Hill) and Josh (Brookes) pass me on the breaks into the last corner, and I didn't really have an answer.

"They stalked me properly and did exactly what they had to do so fair play to them. So maybe I’m a bit disappointed overall, I am happy for third but third isn't a win, so I am not ecstatic."

Byrne’s bittersweet emotions came on the back of being upstaged on the podium in race two as Aussie Josh Brookes took the win ahead of 2011 champion Tommy Hill.

Brookes’ race two heroics lifted him to second in the overall championship standings with 47 points, behind race one winner and surprise package Ian Lowry (49).

Byrne is in touching distance in fifth with 11 points ahead of round three in early May and believes his machinery is just where he wants it ahead of the trip to Oulton Park.

"The bike worked brilliantly all weekend, and to be fair it did at Brands but the wet setting we chose there was not quite right," said Byrne. "When it's working this well we have to be fighting for the wins."

Meanwhile, Lydd racer Bradley Ray claimed two race wins in the Monster Energy Motostar British Championship over the weekend.

Ray, on his Honda 125, won a close opening 10-lap race by just under a second ahead of Kyle Ryde.

He then set the fastest lap in the second race - a five lap sprint - where he won by an impressive margin of seven seconds.

The FAB-Racing teenager leads the championship with 50 points.

Ashford's Ian Stanford claimed a 21st and a 20th place finish on his Honda.

Also at Thruxton, in the National Superstock 600 Championship, Dover's Jake Dixon added to last week's victory with a third place finish.

Elsewhere, Maidstone's Tom Weeden only just missed out on a podium place, finishing just 0.8 seconds behind the third place finisher in the Triumph Triple Challenge.

Rob McNealy, from Sittingbourne, was competing in the National 1000 Superstock Championship and after finishing a promising 8th in the shoot-out race he finished way down in 29 during the 15-lap main event.

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