Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari renewed their on-track rivalry at the front of the pack this afternoon at the official MCE British Superbike Championship test at Donington Park. Byrne, the four-time and reigning MCE BSB champion, claimed the advantage as the Japanese rider crashed unhurt in the closing minutes. 21-year-old young gun Danny Buchan provided the biggest surprise of the day, splitting the pair at the chequered flag on his return to the championship with the Tommy Hill-run Be Wiser Kawasaki team.
The test started in damp conditions with several of the riders waiting until the afternoon to take to the track, with Josh Brookes taking the initial position at the top on the new Yamaha R1 before the times began to tumble as the track conditions improved.
The Buildbase BMW of Kiyonari was improving with every lap, but in the closing ten minutes the former triple champion crashed out at Redgate, the Japanese ace left bruised but ready to make amends next weekend for the opening races of the season.
Byrne seized the opportunity to move ahead at the top of the timesheets, before a hard-charging Buchan split the champions in the closing minutes. The trio headed a promising performance from the Lloyds British Ducati team as they fired the Italian manufacturer into the four in the hands of Jakub Smrz, whilst Honda Racing's Dan Linfoot completed the top five.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki's James Ellison held sixth as he edged ahead of Stuart Easton and Richard Cooper, whilst Josh Brookes was the leading Milwaukee Yamaha in ninth with Tyco BMW completing the top ten with Tommy Bridewell.
Former MotoGP star and 2011 MCE BSB title runner-up John Hopkins was spotted in the paddock talking to various teams as he attempts to secure a late return to the championship for 2015.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, official test, Donington Park:
1. Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) 1m:31.1452. Danny Buchan (Be Wiser Kawasaki) +0.222s3. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) +0230s4. Jakub Smrz (Lloyds British Ducati) +0.243s5. Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +0.284s6. James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.303s7. Stuart Easton (PBM Kawasaki) +0.318s8. Richard Cooper (Anvil Hire TAG Kawasaki) +0.380s9. Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.680s10. Tommy Bridewell (Tyco BMW) +0.890s