Be Wiser Ducati rider and defending champion Shane Byrne will line up in fifth place for the opening race of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship which gets underway tomorrow at Donington Park.
Team-mate Glenn Irwin starts from row three in ninth place on the second row on the factory-backed Ducati Panigale R for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team after track contamination from a previous race resulted in today’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session being cancelled.
The duo had already had to cope with mixed weather during the free practice sessions during yesterday and this morning, with Londoner Byrne also encountering a minor technical issue yesterday which saw him sit out the latter stages whilst Ulsterman Irwin endured a low speed crash earlier today.
However, conditions were dry for this afternoon’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session, which was due to get underway just after 4pm but unfortunately, during a preceding race, one of the riders suffered a technical problem which resulted in fluid being deposited on the track.
A major clean-up operation took place but despite the best efforts of the organisers, the track surface wasn’t deemed suitable for any further activity and so the grid will be determined by the overall positions from the three free practice sessions.
With this morning being wet, that essentially means the fastest overall times from yesterday will form the grid for tomorrow’s first 20-lap race which is scheduled to start at 1.30pm.
Shane Byrne: “It’s been a difficult start to the first round of the year predominantly due to the track conditions and I was surprised as anyone to be quickest in the first session. I haven’t had a lot of track time over the winter months but the bike has been good in the tests we have done and it felt good straight away. Unfortunately, I had a small technical problem in FP2 so only got a handful of laps in and with qualifying being cancelled, I didn’t get the chance to do any more.”
Glenn Irwin: “To be inside the top ten straight away is obviously pleasing especially as I was making a few mistakes in the final part of the track. I’m still learning how to ride the Superbike and I need to improve in sector three, through the Melbourne Loop, especially the last two corners. We made a few changes to the bike which we hoped to try in qualifying but which we’ll do now in morning warm-up.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the chance to improve our starting positions as we were confident that Shakey could have moved up to the first row and Glenn the second. As it is, we’ll start the first race from rows two and three and hope that the conditions are good tomorrow. If the two riders make good starts, I’m sure they’ll be able to push on and improve their positions considerably.”
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)
3 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
4 Peter Hickman (BMW)
5 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)
6 James Ellison (Yamaha)
9 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)