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Monday 30th May 2011

HM PLANT HONDA VICTORIOUS AT THRUXTON

HM Plant Honda’s Shane 'Shakey' Byrne extended his advantage in the British Superbike Championship standings to 15 points following two strong podium finishes at the fourth round at Thruxton including a commanding victory in the second race of the day.

In race one Shakey started from 33rd on the grid and after the opening lap he had moved up the order to seventeenth. Byrne was fighting his way through the field and a determined ride saw him duelling for second place on the final lap with Michael Rutter. Byrne took the third place and with it the pole position for race two. In the second race he took the lead on the opening lap and edged out an advantage to score his third win of the season and extend his championship lead to 15 points. Ryuichi Kiyonari had a challenging race day and in the opening race took a top ten finish in tenth however in race two he struggled with the conditions and ended in 19th place.

In the Superstock 1000 Championship it was an incident-packed race and Jason O’Halloran started from the third row of the grid. A crash on the opening lap prompted a safety car interval over the next five laps and when the race resumed Jason was running in eighth place and with the leading pack. He was moving up the order but when the race was red flagged at the end of lap eleven Jason was forced to settle for sixth.

Byrne said: “That was the first time I had ridden the HM Plant Honda Fireblade in the wet conditions and I have to say it was great. I had some real vision problems with my visor and to be honest I couldn’t read my pit board and I only knew it was the last lap because I saw the flag on the start line. I thought ‘oh no it’s the last lap’ and I couldn’t have pushed it any harder. I had a good battle with Michael (Rutter) race two was a bit easier as I started from pole rather than the back of the grid! After the first race I was desperate to get to the front and just ride my own race. I was smoother and the HM Plant Honda Fireblade was on rails so I couldn’t have been happier. The track was quite grippy and once I got to the front I was comfortable and in a rhythm. I think I could have even gone faster if I pushed a bit but it has been a great weekend and all credit to the team. I can’t wait for Knockhill now.”

Kiyo said: “This weekend we were feeling better after free practice and finding more confidence and we had good settings for the dry conditions. Then it rained for the races and it was disappointing as we had the same problem in both. We had tried different settings compared to Croft but I just couldn’t get the confidence to push harder and it was at times a bit scary for me. We will work hard to be fast again at the next round as we need to fight for the championship.”

Jason said: “It was a disappointing race for us, mainly due to the safety car period and the red flag with still some of the race to go. It would have been nice just to go the distance as we were closing in over the last lap. In the first laps after the safety car my visor misted up and that made it even more difficult but then I opened it and it cleared so was able to start moving forward and making some passes. It’s a shame the red flag came out as it made it a bit of a non-event for me in the end, but we are still third in the standings so we can move on and aim high again for Knockhill.”

Team Manager Havier Beltran concluded: “After his crash in qualifying Shakey was confident that he could still be up the front fighting for a podium in the races today; he proved to be right and it made it interesting to watch his progress throughout the race. To come through from the back of the grid to third was an outstanding feat, but it could have been a different story if he had qualified better. It showed how confident Shakey is at the moment and he was obviously then ready to challenge for the win in the second race. In race two he again showed his confidence and demonstrated the strength of the HM Plant Honda Fireblade to lead by such a margin so all credit to him. Kiyo we thought had turned it around this weekend and could be running back at the front; he did laps and we were working on the set-up but we are still not completely there. It is obviously not where we need to be; we have the belief in him and know he can perform outstandingly so we need to resolve it for Knockhill.

“Jason had a strong position in hand at the back of the lead group in the Superstock race and he had a problem with his visor misting up and then he was moving forward before it was red flagged. We are frustrated for him as it could have been a podium today but consistency is paramount and he is still third in the overall standings. We are all working for the same goal and we are feeling confident ahead of Knockhill.”

 

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