Byrne And Irwin All In For AssenTue, 26/09/2017
The second round out of the three that comprise the Showdown in the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship makes its now traditional foray over the North Sea to the TT Circuit Assen whereby both Be Wiser Ducati riders Shane Byrne and Glenn Irwin go in search of glory this weekend.
Having led the series for most of the year aboard the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R for Paul Bird’s Lake District-based team, five times and defending champion ‘Shakey’ endured a disappointing opening round of the Showdown at Oulton Park last time out to drop down to third in the standings, 23 points behind series leader Leon Haslam.
So arriving at Assen, the Sittingbourne-based Londoner knows he can’t afford any further slip-ups if he’s to add title number six to his tally and the plan is to take the battle back to his rivals and hopefully add to his double victories at Snetterton and Brands Hatch in mid-season, as well as the one at Oulton Park earlier in the year.
Byrne has won twice at Assen and finished runner-up to Haslam in both races last year but that’s not an option this time around as he goes all in with a view to reducing the gap to Haslam and Josh Brookes in order to take the fight to his local Brands Hatch track next month for the three-race finale to the thrilling 2017 season.
Team-mate Irwin, meanwhile, also struggled at Oulton Park just one week after securing his maiden BSB victory at Silverstone so the Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland rider also has his own agenda coming into Assen. With the serious injuries he sustained mid-season continuing to heal, Irwin knows that a decent performance aboard his Be Wiser Ducati can take points off Byrne’s title rivals if he’s challenging for the podium, so he’ll be doing all he can to back up Shakey, especially given the recent announcement that both riders would remain with the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team for 2018.
Shane Byrne: “The recent run of tracks and the lack of results we've had lately, means only one option, and that is I have to win all remaining five races starting with the two at Assen this weekend. If I do that, even if Leon finishes second to me in every race, I’ll be the champion but it’s nowhere near as simple as that. I'd like to think I perform well under pressure and with the pressure of a title defence and the expectations of the team, manufacturer, sponsors, fans, friends and family upon me, I intend to do my very best to make this happen.”
Glenn Irwin: “I'm excited to get to the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ and I’m looking to putting the Be Wiser Ducati back up the pointy end where it and I belong. Training has again been good this week and along with some other preparation, I feel ready. Since I won at Silverstone, I’ve not enjoyed the best fortune so the plan is to go out there and give it my all and if I can get in amongst Shakey’s title rivals, then it goes without saying I will do. Assen is a track which will suit our bikes so there’s no reason why we both can’t be on the podium.”
Championship standings (after ten rounds)
1 L Haslam 571pts
2 J Brookes 549
3 S Byrne 548
4 J Dixon 541
5 P Hickman 530
6 J O’Halloran 517
11 Irwin 116