Despite the inclement weather that saw only one MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship race run at Brands Hatch, Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Shane Byrne salvaged some valuable points to get his season underway.
The former double British Superbike champion from Sittingbourne qualified the Kawasaki ZX-10R on the front row for the opening race and in the wet conditions, made a good start to run with the leaders in the early stages. Despite his best efforts, Shakey was unable to maintain his early pace and dropped back to seventh place after being passed on the last lap.
For team-mate Stuart Easton, making his return from serious injury, he was constantly on the pace throughout the dry qualifying and was hopeful of a good result but the Hawick rider encountered a set up problem so rather than risk a crash, he sensibly pulled in hoping for a better result in race two.
Sadly, the second race didn't take place as a combination of a contaminated track from an earlier race and rapidly dropping temperatures led the organisers to postpone the race which will be held later in the season.
There was, however, reason to celebrate as the team's Metzeler National Superstock 1000 rider, Keith Farmer, took a fantastic victory in the opening race of the season. The Clogher, Northern Ireland rider rode a sensible race to bring the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10R home ahead of former champion Steve Brogan to claim maximum points on only his second ride in the series.
Shane Byrne: "I didn't even know where I'd even finished in the first race, there was just so much going on but considering the conditions I was happy just to bring the bike home. We have had very little time on the bike in the wet so it was a bit of a gamble with the settings and we perhaps went the wrong way. I was hoping to put it right in race two but quite rightly the race was postponed so we'll move on to Thruxton next weekend and hope we can get the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki up at the front."
Stuart Easton: "Overall we've had a good weekend and in the dry I was very happy with the way things were going but in the wet we struggled a little as it's the first time in 18 months I've actually raced in the wet. Rather than a silly crash I thought we'd pull in and make the changes for race two but that never happened. It's all good experience and we've got a lot of data and it's good to be back on a bike again at a race meeting."
Keith Farmer:"That's just the way we roll! I was hoping to get into the points at the first few rounds and get stronger as the year wore on so to be sitting here with a win at the first race is unbelievable. I got the perfect start from the sixth row and pushed as hard as I could, it was the only way you were going to make up places. I kept the shoulders wide and pushed on so a big thanks to Paul and the team, it's an opportunity of a lifetime for me and this is just the perfect start."
Paul Bird: "It's been a bit of a difficult day for both Shakey and Stuart and we went a little bit in the wrong direction with their settings as like most teams we've had very little in the way of wet testing. I'm pleased for Stuart who has done remarkably well this weekend and we know Shakey will bounce back next weekend at Thruxton, but regarding Keith I'm absolutely speechless. To come through from way down the field to lead in the opening few laps is just unbelievable and is a fantastic start to the season for us. I'd forgotten what it was like to win and this is just the tonic we need for the team for the rest of the season."
Superbikes - Race 1 (30 laps)1 Jon Kirkham (Honda)2 Alastair Seeley (Suzuki)3 Michael Rutter (Kawasaki)4 Ian Lowry (Honda)5 Gary Mason (Kawasaki)6 Tommy Bridewell (BMW)7 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) DNF Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
Metzeler National Superstock 1000cc Championship race (22 laps)1 Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)2 Steve Brogan (BMW)3 Jason O'Halloran (Honda)4 Adam Jenkinson (Honda)5 Jimmy Storrar (BMW)6 Gary Johnson (Honda)