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Flexicon Sponsored Team Extends Lead After Brands Hatch Podium

The Flexicon Sponsored Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team extended their MCE British Superbike Championship lead at round five of the series at Brands Hatch this weekend with Shane 'Shakey' Byrne claiming a second place in the opening dry race with a fifth place finish in the second race which was held in damp conditions.

Aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R for the Cumbrian-based team, the 37-year-old from Sittingbourne overcame problems during practice and qualifying to claim his fourth pole position of the season for the opening 20 lap race at his local track.

Byrne, who has won 13 times around the Kent Grand Prix track, led for almost three quarters of the race but it was close throughout as he constantly had Ryuichi Kiyonari, James Ellison and Chris Walker breathing down his neck. Kiyonari hit the front on the 16th lap and he held on to take the win with Shakey in second, only a tenth of a second adrift to claim his ninth consecutive podium comprising six wins and three second places.

With the storm clouds gathering overhead, the second race started in spectacular fashion for the triple MCE BSB champion when Ellison crashed out in front of him and his Kawasaki clattered into the side of Byrne, who amazingly stayed on board. The race was immediately stopped and when it did get underway again, the rain had arrived with Shakey the early race leader. However, the tricky conditions meant Byrne opted for caution and a safe points haul eventually taking the chequered flag in fifth place. With his main championship rivals finishing behind him, Byrne was able to extend his title lead further to 92 points, increasing his important Podium Credits tally to 39, a lead of 25.

Team-mate Stuart Easton was keen to consolidate his top six position in the title race but had a tough weekend and slipped back to eighth overall after managing only a best finish of tenth. The 30-year-old Hawick rider found it difficult to get a good set-up with the bike in the hot weather during qualifying and finished back in tenth place in the first race. A better result looked on the cards in the second wet race for the reigning British Supersport Champion but a mistake saw him run off the track and by the time he rejoined the race he was outside the top 20 before eventually battling back to 14th place at the finish.

Shane Byrne: "It's been a hard weekend and although I managed to take the pole position I had to work really hard as we were constantly making changes with the bike to try and get it to work how I wanted it to. I really enjoyed the first race and fair play to Kiyo, he rode really well. I led for the first part of the race but once he came by I knew I had to try and pass him as he was really strong coming out of the last corner. I tried a couple of times on the last lap but there wasn't a real opportunity to do anything so I settled for a safe second. The second race got off to the worst start when James crashed in front of me and the bike caught my brake lever and trapped my hand between the handlebar although, luckily, there was no major damage to my fingers. In the re-start, we had difficult conditions to contend with in the wet so the plan was to stay out of trouble as my main title rivals were all behind me. Another podium would have been great and whilst second and fifth could have been better, I was able to pick up the 'King of Brands' trophy also so the weekend ended on a good note."


Stuart Easton: "For some reason, we struggled all weekend to find a good set-up with the bike and no matter what we tried; I just wasn't feeling 100% comfortable out there. Tenth was the best I could manage in the first race but we changed all the settings for race two and the bike felt immediately better, probably the best it had done all weekend. I got a great start and was running inside the top six before the race got red flagged but I had a good grid spot for the re-start and was hopeful of a good result. Again the start went well but after I'd been pushed back a couple of places I made a mistake at Surtees trying to make up ground. I joined in almost last place but kept going until the end and picked up what could be a couple of valuable championship points."

Paul Bird, Team Owner: "For the first time in five meetings we've not scored a win but Shakey still managed to extend his lead so it's far from a disaster. The team worked hard to allow him to get pole position and he was fighting with Kiyo in race one for the win but sensibly settled for second which is what he needs to do at this stage in the championship. He knew all his major title rivals were behind him in race two so again it was a case of just bringing the bike home in difficult conditions. Stuart struggled this weekend so after his Knockhill podium, we need to get him back up to speed but he'll be fine at Thruxton, as will Shakey, the both of them won two races each there last year."

MCE British Superbike Championship Race One - 19 laps
1 Ryuichi Kiyonari (BMW)
2 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
3 James Ellison (Kawasaki)
4 Chris Walker (Kawasaki)
5 Dan Linfoot (Kawasaki)
6 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
10 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two - 15 laps
1 Josh Waters (Suzuki)
2 Richard Cooper (Kawasaki)
3 Keith Farmer (Kawasaki)
4 Tommy Bridewell (Yamaha)
5 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
6 Jon Kirkham (Kawasaki)
14 Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
Championship Points (after five rounds)
1 Byrne 221pts

2 Brookes 129
3 Ellison 124
4 Kiyonari 107
5 Bridewell 101
6 Walker 96
8 Easton 82

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki MCE British Superbike Championship Team is running alongside the PBM MotoGP Team with riders Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes. Additionally, Paul Bird is running a full campaign in the REIS BTRDA Rally Series as well as selected International events in his Ford Focus WRC07. Both bike racing teams are sporting the colours of British Racing Green in deference to the team's proud British heritage.

The next round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship takes place at Thruxton over the weekend of August 1/3rd.  For more information, register your details for updates or visit www.britishsuperbike.com and www.pbmuk.net.

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