Paul Bird Motorsport wrapped up their 2015 MCE British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch this weekend whereby four-times and outgoing champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne did so in fine style with three podiums to secure second place overall in the title race.
In the opening race of the triple-header weekend and aboard the Be Wiser Insurance-backed PBM Kawasaki ZX-10R, Byrne gave it his all from start to finish whereby having qualified in fifth, the 38-year-old Londoner led for the first half of the race with title rival Josh Brookes scrapping it out with him.
Knowing nothing short of beating the Australian would do to take the title fight into the final day, Byrne rode one of the races of his life, but Brookes hit the front on lap 13 and proceeded to take the win ahead of Shakey meaning he had to hand over the number one plate.
With two more races Sunday, Byrne was eager to sample victory and the opening 20-lap encounter followed a similar pattern to that of the previous day. Shakey led in the early stages until Brookes again hit the front but this time on the seventh lap. The duo again battled it out, but again, Byrne had to settle for second best behind his rival, although he did clinch second place in the series to make it two titles and two runner-up spots in the past four MCE BSB seasons.
Just one race remained of the 2015 season and it proved to be one of the best. With numerous riders scrapping it out for the lead, Brookes made an uncharacteristic error and crashed out on lap eight, leaving Shakey battling with Michael Laverty and James Ellison for the race win. Although there was less than half a second between the trio at the chequered flag, Shakey had to settle for third on this occasion in front of his adoring home fans.
Team-mate Danny Buchan, again deputising for the injured Stuart Easton, also enjoyed a strong weekend. Having qualified in third and on the front row for the first race, a poor start hindered his progress, but he still crossed the line in a solid eighth place.
The Essex rider showed even better pace in the early stages of today's first race and ran strongly in third for the early stages. Part of a terrific seven-rider tussle, positions changed hands regularly and despite dropping back in the latter part, the 22-year-old from Basildon took ninth at the flag.But on his final ride with the team, he saved the best until last and had an excellent ride into seventh place to come home less than three seconds adrift of race winner Laverty. The results from the weekend helped him secure 12th place overall in the championship, one place behind Easton.
Shane Byrne: "I gave it my all in the first race to try and keep the championship alive and there wasn't much more I could do than that. We knew where the Yamaha would be good and unfortunately there wasn't anything we could do about it! Today, there was a glimmer of hope as when he came by he wasn't as ridiculously fast and I was able to hang in for a few more laps than before. However, there were a couple of sectors where Josh was just too strong, but I did my best. The championship was always going to be difficult this year, but the PBM team has been 100% behind me all the way so I gave it 100% and a bit more. Well done to Josh and Yamaha, championships aren't handed to you and you don't win as many races as what they've done without deserving it. We'll come back next year and try our best to win it back."
Danny Buchan: "I struggled a bit in the first two races with a feel for the front end and whilst I could run the pace of the front runners in the early stages, I lost pace as the race wore on. We kept making little changes to the bike and in the final race, I could push on right until the end and to finish with a good seventh was a nice way to end. I'm really grateful to Paul Bird Motorsport for the opportunity and for keeping me racing and also to my personal sponsors who've stuck by me so hopefully I'll be back on the grid somewhere in 2016."
Paul Bird, Team Owner: "It was always going to be a tall order this weekend with the points deficit to Josh as it was but Shakey gave it his all from start to finish and we couldn't have asked for any more from him. He rode and performed like the champion we all know he is whilst Danny put in three professional rides for us and was rewarded with some decent finishes. It closes a chapter in MCE BSB for us, but with our new Ducati deal another one's about to open and we can't wait. We're testing next week in Spain and with new sponsors Be Wiser and a new rider with Glenn Irwin alongside Shakey, so we're all looking forward to 2016 now. We've another new sponsor to announce in the forthcoming weeks and exciting times lie ahead for Paul Bird Motorsport."
MCE British Superbike Championship Race One - 20 laps1 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)2 Shane Byrne (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)3 John Hopkins (Ducati)4 Christian Iddon (Suzuki)5 Lee Jackson (BMW)6 James Ellison (Kawasaki)8 Danny Buchan (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Two - 20 laps1 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)2 Shane Byrne (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)3 Michael Laverty (BMW)4 John Hopkins (Ducati)5 James Ellison (Kawasaki)6 Lee Jackson (BMW)9 Danny Buchan (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship Race Three - 20 laps1 Michael Laverty (BMW)2 James Ellison (Kawasaki)3 Shane Byrne (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)4 Dan Linfoot (Honda)5 Christian Iddon (Suzuki)6 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)7 Danny Buchan (PBM Be Wiser Kawasaki)
Championship Points1 Brookes 703pts2 Byrne 6623 Ellison 6144 Laverty 6015 Linfoot 5566 Bridewell 54511 Easton 13912 Buchan 125