Michael Laverty and Peter Hickman shared the opening two race wins of the 2016 British Superbike Championship in an intense season-opener at Silverstone.
The opening race of the season got Laverty’s season off to a flying start as he held off Shakey Byrne by 0.550s at the finish line to win for Tyco BMW in a top ten which featured all six of the manufactures represented in the 2016 championship.
Honda’s Jason O’Halloran had initially grabbed the lead as the pack streamed into Copse for the first time, but pole-sitter Leon Haslam was instantly on the attack and he forced his JG Speedfit Kawasaki ahead on his return to the series. His lead was short lived though as Laverty stormed to the front and then held the pace but the ‘Pocket Rocket’ was later forced to retire with a technical problem.
Laverty was able to fend off the challenges of Ducati mounted Byrne in the closing stages to claim the first victory of 2016, with a resurgent Christian Iddon on the second Tyco BMW claimed his first ever podium finish in MCE BSB.
A dramatic race two saw the fight for victory go down to the wire as Kawasaki’s Peter Hickman and Ducati’s Byrne went head-to-head on the final lap in an incredible tussle for the final race win of the day.
Hickman had launched off the line to lead the field on the opening lap from race one winner Michael Laverty, Dan Linfoot, Jason O’Halloran, Danny Buchan and Byrne, but the four-time champion was instantly on the attack and was up to fourth by the third lap.
At the front Laverty had hit the lead on the Tyco BMW, but Hickman wasn’t going to give an inch in his quest for victory and on the sixth lap he launched his attack; making a move to return to the front of the pack.
A lap later though and Laverty appeared to have an issue; he dropped down the order leaving Hickman and Byrne to fight it out for the lead. The pair were inseparable down the Wellington Straight for the final time and at Brooklands Byrne went for a move; a small window of opportunity gave him the chance to push ahead, but Hickman was instantly fighting back to recapture the lead.
A corner later at Luffield, Byrne looked like he had the edge but as the pair exited for the drag to the line the Be Wiser Ducati dramatically drifted sideways as Hickman powered to the finish to claim the victory. The incredible chase saw the pair separated by just 0.099s at the line.
In the battle for third place Iddon had got ahead of O’Halloran as the Honda Racing rider was forced to settle for fourth place. The Australian had been embroiled in a titanic battle with returning Haslam and the pair were switching places all the way to the finish.
Speaking after his victory, Race One winner Michael Laverty said: “It is difficult to just run out front and look at your lap timer. I only looked at my pitboard once as I just wanted to concentrate on being as smooth as I could and not making any mistakes and the toughest thing was mid-race as my hands went a bit numb –perhaps as it was a bit cold out there!
QI didn’t feel as comfortable as I wanted to be and I was losing time in a few areas and then I pushed on and it was enough to bring it home. We have worked hard over the winter so it was a perfect start for me and the team so thanks to everyone at Tyco BMW.”
Race Two winner Peter Hickman said: “It feels like a big relief to have won the second race today. I was disappointed that we didn’t finish the first race with a technical issue and I was surprised at how fast I could be from the start of the race. The weekend started steady and we built up throughout the three days. I got a really good start and tried to get my head down and not make any mistakes. When Michael came through I thought I would follow him for a few laps, and then he had a bit of a problem so I got in front of him.
“Over the last few laps the Ducati is so loud that I knew it was Shakey behind me. I did run a bit deep into Brooklands which gave him a bit of a shot at it and then that made me too tight into Luffield, so he snuck underneath. There was no way that I was doing all that work and not winning though. I just pinned it and pretty much closed my eyes and it was enough to take it.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Silverstone, race one result:
- Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW)
- Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.550s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +1.394s
- Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) +1.560s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +4.155s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +4.281s
- Danny Buchan (Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati) +6.354s
- Lee Jackson (Buildbase BMW) +7.681s
- John Hopkins (ePayMe Yamaha) +8.598s
- Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki) +8.739s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Silverstone, race two result:
- Peter Hickman (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.009s
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +1.005s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +1.395s
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +3.142s
- Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) +3.369s
- Lee Jackson (Buildbase BMW) +5.685s
- James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +7.554s
- Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +7.679s
- Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) +8.045s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Silverstone:
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 40
- Michael Laverty (Tyco BMW) 35
- Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) 32
- Peter Hickman (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 25
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 23
- Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) 19