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Shakey wins incident-packed season opener

Monday, April 25 2011

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne won the opening MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship race of the season on his return to Brands Hatch with the HM Plant Honda team in an incident-packed race as many of his rivals crashed out of contention.

Byrne took the hole shot on the opening lap from Ryuichi Kiyonari and Michael Laverty, but it wasn't long before the Swan Yamaha barged his way through and after passing Kiyonari, he took the lead from Byrne on the run into Paddock Hill Bend on the second lap.

Laverty then held the lead with Byrne pushing him hard with Kiyonari getting bumped down to fourth as the second Swan Yamaha of Tommy Hill moved to third. James Westmoreland was then the first rider to crash out of the race, falling on the exit of Graham Hill Bend. The Buildbase BMW of John Laverty then crashed out at Druids as the riders battled frantically for positions.

Laverty, Byrne, Hill and Kiyonari were then fighting for the lead, but it was disappointment for the defending champion as he suffered a technical problem on the HM Plant Honda and was forced to retire on the eighth lap. A lap later Graeme Gowland, who had been the fastest of the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo riders in qualifying, crashed out at Clark Curve as his WFR Honda team-mates battled for the win in the class. John Hopkins was then another to crash out, falling at Druids as he was moving up the order in fifth. He was able to rejoin but the Samsung Crescent Racing rider finished 17th.

Laverty was still coming under fire from Byrne and his team-mate Hill but then he dramatically high-sided on the eleventh lap on the exit of Clark Curve and as he crashed out at high-speed both Byrne and Hill were forced to take evasive action. Hill was off the circuit and on the grass, whilst Byrne also lost ground and the incident forced the Nissan GTR Safety Car to be deployed.

In the melee Stuart Easton and the MSS Colchester Kawasaki team led the field from Byrne, Loris Baz, Josh Brookes and Michael Rutter whilst Hill had dropped to eleventh after his off-track moment. Byrne was on the attack straight away when the race resumed and made a move straight up the inside at Druids.

The leading pack were fighting hard for the lead as Brookes had moved up to third at Paddock Hill Bend then up to second at Clark Curve as Byrne maintained his place at the front. Brookes looked set to challenge for the win, but the Relentless Suzuki rider suffered a nasty high-side on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend.

Hill was on a charge and with five laps remaining he had worked his way up to fourth and pushing Rutter hard who had moved up the order after Laverty's crash. Hill was back in a podium position with four laps to go as he passed Rutter on the run to Paddock Hill Bend and then he had Easton in his sights and he made a move to go second. The second Buildbase BMW of Ian Lowry then was another rider to end his race in the gravel when he crashed out at Druids.

Byrne then went on to win his first BSB race since 2008 with Swan Yamaha's Hill in second but on the final corner of the last lap Easton lost third place when he ran wide at Clark Curve, allowing Tommy Bridewell enough room to dive down the inside and reward the Tyco Honda team a podium finish.

Byrne said: "I didn't have any excuses if I didn't have a result today riding for the championship-winning team! It was a hectic race and I got a good start and then Michael's crash happened in slow motion right in front of me and I was lucky that I managed to miss him. That incident then bunched us all up and then I had a fight with Stuart Easton but I knew I had to get past him as soon as possible. It's fantastic to have won the first race of the season and I can't wait for race two now."

Glen Richards won the Mirror.co.uk BSB Evo race after a battle with team-mate Alex Lowes whilst Simon Andrews completed the podium line up.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Ch