Bike legend James Whitham insists Shane Byrne will start as favourite to claim his third British Superbike title when the Showdown commences at Donington Park this weekend despite no longer leading.
Byrne saw his lead at the top of the overall BSB standings, which he has held from almost day one this season, disappear over the Bank Holiday weekend at Cadwell Park.
Tommy Hill claimed a double race win at the Lincolnshire circuit to leapfrog Byrne on podium credits, the all important currency as regular season points are rounded up to 500 before the title Showdown.
As a result Hill leads with 529 points with Bryne seven behind in second with 522 and former MotoGP rider John Hopkins, who missed Cadwell Park through injury, third with 518.
And former British champion Whitham believes that Byrne, who has made no secret of his disdain for the new Showdown rules, will need to get his head in the right place before resuming battle at Donington.
“Shakey starts as the favourite for me, in the opening few rounds he looked nailed on to win the whole thing, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way,” said Whitham – speaking from the Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man.
“If it were me it would certainly be tough to get my head around the fact that despite leading the championship from pretty much start to finish I’m not really getting much reward.
“Tommy [Hill] will go in leading on credits so Shakey’s not even first anymore, but he needs to get over that quickly and focus on winning races again.
“I’m not the biggest fan of the system if I’m honest, Shakey has ridden hard and earned that cushion of points at the top of the standings, he deserves to be in front but sadly for him it hasn’t worked out that way.
“But we all know the rules and he’ll just have to get on with it and for me he is still the favourite but it is certainly going to be exciting.”
2011 Manx Grand Prix Festival features the Manx Classic and Two Day Trial, The VMCC Rally’s and Festival of Jurby and the Manx Grand Prix Races. For more information go to www.mgpfestival.com or for more information on visiting the Isle of Man go to www.visitisleofman.com