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Josh Brookes does the double at Thruxton in BSB 2014

© Glynne Lewis

By Dan Moakes
October 6 2014

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne remained ‘the man’ in the 2014 British Superbike Championship on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, with a comfortable points advantage after five rounds of the series.  The start of August saw a switch to Thruxton, where the others would look to challenge. Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne remained ‘the man’ in the 2014 British Superbike Championship on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, with a comfortable points advantage after five rounds of the series. The start of August saw a switch to Thruxton, where the others would look to challenge.

For the Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki team, Thruxton would see them without their best placed championship contender, with seven-time podium man James Ellison having been injured at Brands Hatch. In qualifying, Byrne’s other main challenger, Josh Brookes for Milwaukee Yamaha, was well placed in second slot. But pole position went to Czech rider Jakub Smrž, three times a pole sitter in World Superbikes. The Millsport team rider put a Ducati in top spot in BSB for only the second time since 2008.

Third place went to the best of the Kawasakis, namely Dan Linfoot for the Quattro Plant team. This left Byrne on the second row of the grid, ‘only’ fourth. He was followed by Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha), John Hopkins (Tyco Suzuki), Peter Hickman (RAF Reserves Honda) and Chris Walker (for GBmoto). Rutter’s team-mate, Patric Muff, had been involved in a practice accident with Richard Cooper (Anvil Hire TAG Kawasaki), with Cooper injured and unable to compete further.

Form guide
: BSB wins
Shane Byrne · 2002, 2003 (x2), 2008, 2011, 2013 (x2)
Michael Rutter · 2002, 2004
Ryuichi Kiyonari · 2005, 2005
Josh Brookes · 2010, 2012

It was a familiar story in race one went Smrž failed to get a good start, and on this occasion his bike went into a wheelie off the line; as he got it under control he was back in eighth, behind Linfoot, Brookes, Byrne, Hopkins, Rutter, Walker and Bridewell, and with Hickman ninth. Coming through from eleventh, Ryuichi Kiyonari (for Buildbase BMW) was soon moving through the lead group. French BSB débutant Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Junior Bimota) went out quickly in a crash at the chicane.

Linfoot, Brookes and Byrne were getting away from the rest, whilst Hopkins went backwards quite quickly. Rutter took his fourth place initially, although soon Walker took over, as Kiyo also closed in. By that time, the final right-left-right Club Chicane had seen Brookes take over at the front, passing Linfoot under braking on the inside on the way in. He was then able to pile on good pace and leave the next pair to it. In the end he was more than 4.0s clear.

Kiyonari overtook Rutter and then Walker to run fourth, then chased after those ahead. Byrne passed Linfoot for second at the Campbell-Cobb-Segrave complex of corners, and before long the latter was under threat from Kiyo. The move came at Club, with Ryuichi also looking to relegate Shakey in the closing stages. The last lap saw the BMW man dive through on the inside at the Cobb left-hander, but Byrne went for the inside going into Club to retake the place. Kiyonari then had a ‘moment’ at the last apex, so that Shane stayed ahead over the line.

Linfoot was fourth home, and meanwhile Rutter (struggling with injury) and Walker had both fallen behind Bridewell and Smrž. These two completed the top six, with Walker heading Hopkins, Rutter, Muff, Jon Kirkham (Halsall Kawasaki), Hickman, Barry Burrell (WD40 Kawasaki), Keith Farmer (PR Racing Kawasaki), Lee Jackson (Buildbase BMW), Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) and the previous race winner Josh Waters (Tyco Suzuki).

The grid for race two saw Linfoot take a turn starting from pole, ahead of Byrne, Brookes, Kiyonari, Walker, Rutter, Bridewell, Hickman, Kirkham, Muff, Smrž and Burrell. Byrne led initially, from Linfoot, who fought back after Brookes passed him in the Segrave right-hander. Walker was fourth, then Kiyonari, Hickman, Rutter, Bridewell, Kirkham, Muff, Hopkins, Burrell, Farmer, Easton and Waters. Rutter would not go far before having to pit.

Thruxton has several fast bends linked together, with the left at Noble leading to successive right-handers at Goodwood, Village and Church. And it was at Church that Linfoot went around the outside of Byrne to lead, only for the former champion to get back ahead on the inside for Club. These two swapped places further, more than once, as Brookes, Walker, Kiyonari and Hickman went with them. Kiyonari took fourth at Club, moments after Byrne got back past Linfoot in the same corner.

It was now Byrne from Linfoot, Brookes and Kiyonari, with Hickman about to pass Walker for fifth. Farmer had already suffered a blown engine with his Kawasaki as the same fate befell Bridewell with his Yamaha at the Club Chicane. With oil dropped on the track, the safety car was signalled, but in fact the decision was made to red flag the race. After the clear up, proceedings would be restarted for 15 laps, with the grid based on the race order at the stoppage.

Byrne led away again, followed by Linfoot, Walker, Brookes, Hickman, Kiyonari, Kirkham, Hopkins and Waters. With a trademark good getaway, Walker was well and truly involved in the up-front battles, especially at Club. This was where ‘the Stalker’ was passed by Brookes, but the same corner saw him subsequently get back in front, and another move there saw him pass Linfoot for second on the outside line.

Brookes was very much involved as well, finding a different route for passing others at the Club Chicane. Having been pushed back to fifth by Kiyonari, the Australian went round the outside of Ryuichi through the second part, the left-hander. Soon ahead of Linfoot, Josh did the same thing to Walker for second, then took the lead from Byrne on the inside at Cobb. With Linfoot and Walker about to start losing ground on the first pair, Kiyonari made a couple of passes at Club to make it a three-way tussle for victory.

Brookes had a little in hand as they went into the last two laps, with Kiyonari challenging Byrne for second. The last lap saw Shakey going deep on the brakes for Club and defending his position, so that they reached the flag in unchanged order. Linfoot and Walker were next home, then it was Kirkham from Easton, Hopkins, Howie Mainwaring (Quattro Plant Kawasaki), Hickman, Muff, Waters, Smrž, Burrell and Aaron Zanotti (GGH / STEL Suzuki).

In the absence of James Ellison, it was double race winner Josh Brookes who assumed the role of Shane Byrne’s closest challenger, with the recently consistent Ryuichi Kiyonari overtaking Ellison with two more podium appearances. With Byrne runner-up to Brookes on both occasions, the championship leader minimised the ‘damage’, and he still leads by 82 points. But will Brookes and Kiyonari be able to close in further next time out?

Standings after twelve races: Byrne 261; Brookes 179; Kiyonari 139; Ellison 124; Walker and Linfoot 116; Bridewell 112; Easton 91; Hopkins 80; Cooper 69.
podium credits: Byrne 45, Brookes 24, Kiyonari 15, Ellison 9, Waters 5, Walker 4, Cooper 3, Bridewell, Easton and Farmer 1.

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