BSB is finally underway, with the first round at Donnington Park taking place over the bank holiday weekend, and it’s already proving to be a championship full of surprises! Reigning champion Shane Byrne came out on top, but it wasn’t an easy ride for Shakey and the PBM Kawasaki team as he started the bid for his fifth BSB title.
A nail biting first race saw James Ellison narrowly clinch his first win since 2013 – and the first for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team – with Byrne close behind. Dan Linfoot led the charge for third place for much of the race but, after clashing on the final lap, Josh Brookes managed to scrape through by a fraction of a second to earn the final podium spot, making him the only non-British rider to crack the top ten.
Last year’s second place and this year’s pole-sitter Ryuichi Kiyonari, meanwhile, scraped in to 14th place despite a strong start. In the post-race interviews, he put his disappointing position down to overthinking things under the pressure of the weekend’s warm weather. Things didn’t get much better for Kiyonari in race two, either, crashing out in the sixth lap while battling in the leading pack.
Ellison was also struck by bad luck in race two. Battery problems meant he was relegated to the back of the grid after tense and frantic efforts from the JG Speedfit team got him race-ready. Recovering well but never pulling ahead, Ellison ended race two in 12th.
His main rival from race one out of the way, Byrne instead battled intensely with Linfoot for the win in race two. The pair changed positions constantly throughout the race, with Byrne eventually earning the victory.
Kiyonari’s crash saw Brookes briefly leave the track, ultimately clawing back to sixth place, while Stuart Easton improved on his number 11 finish in race one to claim third.
The top six after round one is as follows:
1. Shane Byrne (PBM Kawasaki) 45
2. Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) 33
3. James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 29
4. Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) 26
5. Peter Hickman (RAF Reserves BMW) 24
6. Stuart Easton (PBM Kawasaki) 21
The final standings after Donnington Park mean Byrne is off to a good start in claiming his fifth title, but with plenty of fighting talk issued from all corners in advance of Brands Hatch on the 17th-19th of April, it won’t be an easy ride. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks – and throughout the year – to catch all of the action!