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Byrne back in Superbikes action at Brands

SHANE BYRNE: mixed views about the Kent circuit
SHANE BYRNE: mixed views about the Kent circuit

THE British Superbike Championship is set to roar into Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this weekend.

The championship is widely regarded as the world’s best national bike racing series and attracts some of the finest riders from across the globe.

Sunday’s race will be the opening round of the 2006 season and will feature two local riders going for glory.

Shane Byrne, who grew up in Sittingbourne and lived for some time on Sheppey, will return to his home circuit with the aim of regaining the championship title he claimed in 2003, while Maidstone’s Scott Smart will also be looking for a good start to the season.

Byrne has been racing in MotoGP for two years but is now back to racing in the UK with the frontrunning Rizla Suzuki.

He said: “I came back to British Superbikes because I realised that it’s impossible to compete in MotoGP without the right bike and the right team around you.

“I had a great year in 2003, winning the British Superbikes title and enjoying my racing. And to go from that to racing on a bike that limits you to aiming to scrape into the top 15th and pick up the odd point wasn’t enjoyable.

“So when the opportunity came up to race for Rizla Suzuki and I snatched it. They’re a great team with a good history and it will be great to be aiming for first place again rather than 15th.

“The only thing that hasn’t been ideal is my lack of testing time. I have only done 130 laps so far and I know the other top riders have done a lot more, so that can play on your mind a bit.”

Byrne, who now lives in Zurich but still has a home on Sheppey, has good memories of his first ever Superbike race at Brands Hatch’s short circuit – but has mixed feelings about the West Kingsdown track.

He said: “I love the long circuit at Brands Hatch but I’m not that big a fan of the short cut. But I won my first ever race on the short circuit so if I can have a repeat of that on Sunday I would be delighted.”

Tickets for the meeting cost £26 per adult on the gate, with children aged 12 and under admitted free.

Qualifying starts at 9am on Saturday, with British Superbikes qualifying at 12.15pm.

Racing starts at 12.30pm on Sunday, with the first of two Superbikes races at 1.15pm. The pit walkabout and autograph session will be at 11.35am.

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