Published: 18:23, 15 April 2018
| Updated: 09:55, 16 April 2018
By Sandy Burr
Sittingbourne’s Shane Byrne closed the gap on British Superbike Championship leader Bradley Ray at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
Byrne won the first race before finishing fourth in a rain-affected second race, meaning he now trails Ray by 10 points after the first two meetings of the season.
Ray, from Lydd, was hoping to build on his cracking success of the double win in the season opener at Donnington.
The Buildbase Suzuki rider snatched his first pole position with a 44.9-second lap time at Brands’ Indy circuit with Byrne, riding for BeWiser Ducati, closely behind and James Ellison completing the front row.
Ray took an early lead and set a new track record with a lap time of 45.20. He held fast until a mistake early into lap 29 at Paddock Hill bend, going wide allowed Byrne who didn’t need an invitation to slip past.
Despite nearly losing the back wheel at Druids, Shakey took control and the chequered flag to secure his first winning podium credit, with Ray second and Jason O’Halloran third for Honda Racing.
Few predicted the podium riders in race two.
Ray was leading race two until the red flag on lap seven stopped the race due to the conditions.
A 22-lap restart wet race saw Ray In pole again but the restart race was a complete turnaround.
Ray dropped back to finish seventh and neither he or Byrne was able to challenge the leaders.
After a few cat and mouse laps it was Leon Haslam for JG Speedfit Kawasaki who took the chequered flag from Glen Irwin, Byrne’s team-mate, and Michael Laverty completed the podium for Tyco BMW.
Byrne did not lose too much ground, by finishing in fourth spot.
Byrne said: "It’s been a good weekend with a good haul of points and the first race couldn’t have gone any better. Brad and I pulled a bit of a gap over the rest of the field and I had a plan for the closing stages but when he ran wide, I took advantage.
"I saw the job through though and it was great to get the first win of the season.
"The conditions for race two were far from ideal and I lost a bit of ground so with a good gap behind me, I settled for a solid fourth.
"With a first and a fourth place, it hasn’t been a bad day and with Glenn getting a podium too, it’s been a good day for the team.”
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