Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne completed a dream double in front of a huge home crowd at Brands Hatch to take the lead in the BSB championship standings.
The two races on the legendary Grand Prix circuit produced five different podium finishers, representing five different manufacturers and five different teams with just seven races now remaining before the Showdown.
An incredible battle opened the day as Byrne denied Dan Linfoot his first ever MCE BSB victory as the Be Wiser Ducati rider stole the lead at Surtees with two laps to go before the race had a premature end due to changing conditions.
At the start of Race One Luke Mossey had fired the JG Speedfit Kawasaki off the line to take the lead from pole sitter Josh Brookes and Linfoot. However, a hectic opening few laps saw Brookes try and attack, but Mossey was keeping his cool as Byrne held station in sixth place.
On the fifth lap Byrne went for a move on Haslam at Surtees, but ran out wide and dropped back three places, giving himself more work to do. At the front Brookes had hit the lead, but Mossey instantly fought back and regained the position.
A big crash for Shaun Winfield caused the first BMW Safety Car deployment of the season, but the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha rider was able to walk away from the incident.
When the race resumed Peter Hickman instantly went for a move as did Linfoot and by the end of the next lap it was Linfoot leading the way from Mossey, Hickman, Leon Haslam and Brookes with Christian Iddon also in close contention.
Hickman waited two more laps before he got his opportunity to snatch the lead; moving ahead at Surtees to push Linfoot back into second place.
Linfoot was coming under pressure from Mossey as he dived down the inside at Paddock Hill Bend on the twelfth lap but the Honda Racing rider fought back and repaid the move into Druids to regain the position.
Hickman was still leading the pack for the Smiths Racing BMW team with Linfoot, Mossey, Haslam and Iddon hot on their heels as Brookes dropped back and was fighting off James Ellison and Byrne.
Linfoot regained the lead on Lap 16 with a decisive move at Paddock Hill Bend, but the defending champion was on the move and he had worked his way up the order to take the lead at Surtees with two laps remaining. The red flag was then bought out when light rain began to fall, but it was enough for Byrne to claim the win.
The result meant Linfoot celebrated his first podium of the season for Honda Racing with Haslam returning to the podium for the first time since Oulton Park as he held off Hickman and Brookes.
The second race was shaping up to be a dogfight between the defending champion and Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha’s Brookes with the pair hitting the front of the pack, and as the Australian hounded down his rival; he crashed out at Surtees on the ninth lap.
As Byrne edged ahead the battle behind was intensifying for third position as Ellison, Iddon, Haslam and Hickman traded blows in their quest for a podium finish. Ellison was upping the pace on the McAMS Yamaha and was able to hold off Iddon as the pair returned to the podium.
Hickman doubled up on fourth places for the Smiths Racing BMW team and continues to hold the final place in the top six with three rounds remaining before the Showdown. Hicky had battled intensely with Haslam during the earlier stage of the race, but was able to forge ahead to leave the JG Speedfit Kawasaki riders battling for fifth with Haslam holding off Mossey and Jason O’Halloran.
Rookie Bradley Ray, Michael Laverty on the second of the McAMS Yamahas, and Jake Dixon completed the top ten.
Byrne said: “The first race was a lot tougher than what I was hoping for but the safety car coming out did me a favour and I got going straightaway again.
The bike had felt really good all weekend in the dry and we were able to prove that in the race so a big thank you to the team. The pace was even hotter in the second race and with a good start decided I had to get to the front as quickly as possible and go for it.
“Once I’d got the lead, I just tried to stay as consistent as possible and watched my pit board. I just kept my rhythm and concentration so to get the double is brilliant and we’re achieving just what we wanted to at our strong circuits.”
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race one result:
1. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
2. Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +0.365s
3. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.737s
4. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +0.795s
5. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +1.535s
6. James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.717s
7. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +2.102s
8. Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +3.631s
9. John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +3.708s
10. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +3.792s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race two result:
1. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
2. James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +5.787s
3. Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +6.167s
4. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +8.039s
5. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +10.079s
6. Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +10.530s
7. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +10.866s
8. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +13.246s
9. Michael Laverty (McAMS Yamaha) +14.002s
10. Jake Dixon (RAF Reserves Kawasaki) +14.983s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Brands Hatch:
1. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 190
2. Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 161
3. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 159
4. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 133
5. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 129
6. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 119