Stobart Vent Axia Motorsport rider Shane Byrne left it late but came up with the goods to secure pole position at round five of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at a blustery Snetterton circuit in Norfolk today.
The 30 year old Londoner had shown good pace throughout the free practice sessions and was confident of a good showing during the one qualifying session but his hopes were dealt a blow when he developed a problem with his number one bike and had to resort to his spare.
But it didn't turn out to be a handicap as with just a few minutes left of the session, Byrne recorded a lap of 1m 04.908s which was enough to secure his first pole position of the season and the first one in three long years for the Paul Bird Motorsport team.
Backing his experienced team mate up once again Yorkshire youngster Tom Sykes gave another impressive performance and will start tomorrow's two 22-lap races from row two of the grid having qualified in sixth.
Sykes who has proved to be remarkably consistent this year lapped in a time of 1m05.504s and is expected to be challenging for podium placings tomorrow.
"I'm really pleased with that. The number one bike had been working really well and I started pushing really hard because I wanted a front row start but the bike developed a problem on braking so I had to go out on the spare. The first fast lap on the spare bike was quick enough for pole, but the second lap was even quicker."
"That was good. I can do 1m 05's quite easily now and I'm happy with my race set up and we know what we have to do now. I was on a fast lap and another rider got in my way, so that messed it up a bit. I think I've been a bit unlucky in qualifying but our time will come. I'm happy enough with a second row start and I'm just looking forward to tomorrow. I'd like to thank the boys and the whole team who have worked really hard once again."
"That was brilliant and it's really good for the team. Hopefully we can turn it into two strong race results tomorrow and we should be in the ball park for both riders for the podium. It's fantastic for Shakey to do that on the spare bike."
The first of the Bennetts British Superbike races gets underway at 13.15 with the second one screened live on ITV1 at 15.40.
"My goal for qualifying today was to be on the front row, so I am pleased that I have achieved that but I was not so happy with this afternoon compared to this morning. I am not sure why it felt more difficult, the wind was strong again today and I think there may have been a temperature change or something which affected us. I am happy with the front row start though, it is going to be a tough race tomorrow but I think we can do well here."
"I am pleased to be on the front row as lots of little things went wrong for me today. We are one second off last years pace here and we are not sure why, it maybe partly due to the wind as everybody is slower than last year. I have not progressed as well as I would have liked from practice to qualifying, but I have completed plenty of laps which is good. We are pretty close on the race set up so we should be alright for the races tomorrow."
"When my Rizla Suzuki is handling the way I want the speed goes up and we can run very good lap times. It took us all three practice sessions to get to a setting that gave me the confidence to push hard in qualification.
"The good news is that I set my fastest lap early on using a tyre that I have now tested to race distance and on the final lap was still giving good grip and drive. The second row is OK and gives me a chance to run with the leaders; I'll certainly be giving it my all."
"I've had two fast crashes during the last two days and I am lucky not to have hurt myself. Crashing can dent a rider's confidence but I won't let it affect me; my Rizla Suzuki is good and my lap times on race rubber are strong, I remain upbeat for the races.
- 1, Shane Byrne (Honda) 1.04.908s
- 2, Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1m05.113s
- 3, Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 1m05.129s
- 4, Leon Haslam (Ducati) 1m05.183s
- 5, Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1m05.239s
- 6, Tom Sykes (Honda) 1m05.504s
- 7, Tommy Hill (Yamaha) 1m05.593s
- 8, Chris Walker (Suzuki) 1m05.988s
- 9, Simon Andrews (Yamaha) 1m06.051s
- 10, Karl Harris (Honda) 1m06.215s