Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne celebrated a double dose of victory in the opening round of the BSB Showdown at Donington Park.
The four-time champion fought intensely with his title rival Leon Haslam, who finished second in Race One but crashed out of contention while battling to settle the score in Race Two.
In the opening Showdown race Byrne claimed a storming victory to move back to the top of the standings by just two points from arch rival Haslam who finished second.
At the start of race one Title Fighter James Ellison had taken the initial advantage from his team-mate Haslam, Byrne and Christian Iddon. Byrne was instantly on the attack though and moved into second with a move at the Hairpin on the second lap.
The Be Wiser Ducati rider then waited a lap later to make a pass on Haslam with a dive down the inside at the Esses to hit the front of the pack. It was on the same lap that Title Fighter Luke Mossey run straight on into the Esses before retiring to the pitlane with a brake issue.
Byrne and Haslam then pushed on at the front, with Byrne gradually edging a gap on his main title rival to win the race. The battle for third went down to the final laps and Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran was pushing to move back into the top three. The Australian waited until there were just three laps to go before pulling off a move into the Esses and then fending off the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider.
Peter Hickman was able to fight off Richard Cooper and Dan Linfoot in an intense battle for fifth place with Iddon holding eighth after dropping back down the order with an off track moment at Goddards earlier in the race. John Hopkins and Michael Laverty completed the top ten.
In Race Two Haslam looked to have the edge off the line as the pack steamed into the Craner Curves for the first time, but Ellison forced his way through with a determined move to take the lead.
O’Halloran was denied the chance to try and make his Race One podium a repeat performance when he crashed out at the old Hairpin when the pack concentinered up. The Australian was left clearly frustrated as he now drops to fifth place in the Showdown standings ahead of Assen.
At the front Ellison was holding off Haslam and Byrne, but the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team-mates were soon to swap positions when the ‘Pocket Rocket’ moved ahead on the seventh lap. Ellison was then under fire from Byrne, who a lap later forced his way ahead as he focused on Haslam ahead of him.
Haslam and Byrne were then scrapping at the front, but as the pair dived for the Melbourne Loop, Ellison pulled one of the most spectacular moves of the season to ride around the outside of the duelling pair.
Ellison led over the line but Haslam then moved back ahead in one of the most intense races of the season so far between the leading trio. Ellison was dropping down the order as he began to lose grip and Linfoot took the advantage to move into third.
Haslam and Byrne were dicing at the front but then disaster struck the former championship leader when he crashed out at Redgate; frustrated the local hero was forced to watch the remainder of the race from the sidelines, subsequently falling 27 points behind double winner Byrne with still five races of the Showdown remaining.
Haslam’s crash promoted Tyco BMW’s Iddon to third behind Linfoot as he returned to the podium for the first time since the second round.
The battle for fourth went to JG Speedfit Kawasaki with Peter Hickman leading Richard Cooper and Tommy Bridewell, who had a full-blown battle to the finish after Ellison dropped down the order to seventh. Luke Mossey, Billy McConnell and Glenn Irwin completed the top ten.
Byrne leads the Title Fighters to Assen , enjoying a 27 point advantage over Haslam, but Linfoot is now just 26 points adrift of second place with Ellison hot on his heels ahead of O’Halloran. Mossey ended a tough weekend with a single eighth place to hold sixth in the standings.