Home-grown stars battle for Brands Hatch supremacy
13:09 05 August 2011
More than 50,000 spectators are expected at Brands Hatch this weekend as two Kent riders battle at the front end of the British Superbike Championship field.
The Kent circuit plays host to a triple header, with the first race on Saturday and two more on Sunday as the title race heats up.
There is an excellent chance the packed grandstands will cheer a local winner, with two of the championship’s top three hailing from the county.
Sheppey’s Shane Byrne leads the standings after the first 13 races of the season and will be hoping to add to his three wins this weekend.
The HM Plant Honda rider came first and third in the two races on the Indy circuit in April, but the 34-year-old is keen to get his teeth into the 2.6-mile Grand Prix layout this weekend.
“I can’t wait to get back out there on the long circuit at Brands, it’s probably one of my favourites in the world,” he said. “Being a Kent boy as well it’s my local track, so I always look forward to it.
“I don’t think it gives me any extra advantage though. Everyone thinks as it’s my home track there’s something to be gained, but anyone who has riden in the British Championship as long as me will have ridden it the same amount of times.”
One of Byrne’s main rivals this weekend will be Beckenham’s Tommy Hill. No-one has won more races than the Swan Yamaha rider this season, who is only third in the standings due to an injury which saw him miss two races earlier in the season.
Despite trailing Byrne by 49 points, he is still well in the battle for the title, which is calculated along unorthodox lines. After the following round at Cadwell Park later this month the top six riders will all be moved up to 500 points, with bonuses for the podiums achieved in the opening nine rounds.
As it stands Byrne and Hill have 16 podium credits each, one ahead of American John Hopkins, so competition at the front end is intense.
The 26-year-old won the previous round at Oulton Park last month and could be the man to beat again.
Hill said: “I think we are all raring to go now after having the second race at Oulton Park postponed due to the weather so we want to get back out even more.
“We need to push hard and we need three good races; we won on the Indy circuit earlier in the year so I won’t be aiming for anything less.” There will be an added layer of unpredictability in the field with the addition of the Kawasaki World Superbike team for the weekend.
Australian Broc Parkes, a contender for the World Supersport crown, is taking the place of the injured Tom Sykes and will be partnered by Spanish rider Joan Lascorz.
Photo by NICK DUNGAN