Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Shane Byrne crashed out of the opening MCE British Superbike race at a very wet Brands Hatch whilst fighting for the lead. But with the triple champ out of the points today it leaves the fight for the title still wide open, with only 12 points separating Byrne and Buildbase BMW’s Ryuichi Kiyonari.
The Japanese rider is recovering from a broken collarbone after an earlier free practice high-side, but it is still all to play for going into race two tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile there were celebrations in the Quattro Plant Kawasaki camp as Howie Mainwaring fought his way to his maiden BSB race win, with Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Waters and Halsall Racing’s Jon Kirkham completing the final step of the podium.
“I was happy in second behind Linfoot as I didn’t feel any pressure, and I was feeling content but I was coming underneath Clearways but I lost the front and I thought to myself how did that just happen. But at the end of the day it is what it is and I wanted three dry races but I didn’t get that today,” said Byrne at the track.
Initially it was Byrne who got the hole-shot with rival Brookes hot on his tail. But two rotations later Linfoot decided to join the mix and overtook Brookes going into the first corner and was closing in on leader Byrne.
On lap three Linfoot eased cleanly passed Byrne to take the lead at Westfield, with Bridewell getting the better of his team-mate Brookes to snatch third on the fourth lap of eighteen. But the Australian appeared to have made a mistake out on track and slipped back to seventh with 13 laps remaining.
Tyco Suzuki’s John Hopkins was inside the points, but he retired to the pits with a technical issue, ending his opening race with no points on the seventh lap. While all that was going on Byrne crashed at Clark Curve, but appeared OK at the trackside leaving the championship still all to play for.
While all the drama was going on in the gravel pit Waters was making his way to the front and had Linfoot as his next target with Mainwaring edging ahead of Kirkham to get into the top three by lap 11, as the rain continued to fall on the Kent track. But a rotation later it emerged a battle of the Quattro Plant backed Kawasaki machines with Mainwaring passing his team-mate at Paddock Hill bend to take the lead for the first time this weekend.
Mainwaring paced on ahead as Waters passed Linfoot going into Druids to go into second, and on the penultimate lap the battle was neck and neck between the two racers. On the final lap coming out of Clark Curve the riders were touching bikes only for Mainwaring to have that extra pace to clinch his first win in the BSB championship, with Waters and Kirkham completing the top three.
Linfoot had to settle for fourth, with Milwaukee Yamaha’s Tommy Bridewell and Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Stuart Easton rounding up the top six. Pole-setter GBmoto Kawasaki’s James Ellison fell back to end the afternoon in seventh, with Buildbase BMW's James Westmoreland and GBmoto Kawasaki's Chris Walker completing the top ten.