British Superbikes

British Super Bikes – Round 3 – Croft Circuit


Shakey Byrne - Race 1 - BSB Croft 2011
Shakey Byrne - Race 1 - BSB Croft 2011
Author: Chris Maher, Pictures courtesy of: Chris Maher | Photography

British Super Bikes 2011

Round 3 – Croft Circuit – 13th May to 15th May

The MCE Insurance British Super Bike’s Round 3 moved to the NE of England. And as usual, track conditions provided challenges, for even the most seasoned of riders. Although a relatively flat 2.125 mile course, Croft is notoriously bumpy. Mixed with the traditional Westerly winds & changeable conditions, 2011 would be no different!

So far, the 2011 season has been blessed with warm sunny conditions, in both testing, And racing. Croft was going to be different. Dry testing & Free Practice continued throughout the weekend, but, as the Qualifying period arrived, so did the threat of damper conditions.

Struggling in the Free Practice session, local lad Graeme Gowland (Team WFR – Evo) decided to sit this round out whilst his right wrist injury from Brands Hatch healed. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha), suffering from his fall in the Warm Up session at Oulton Park defied the odds to put in some good testing once again & was declared fit to race.


HM Plants Englishman, Shane Byrne, proved the quickest in the Swan Combi Role for Pole. Irishman, Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) was second. Frenchman Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) third, & veteran Michael Rutter, (Rapid Solicitors Bathams Ducati) finished off the front row. The threat of rain delayed the qualifying sessions & this brought the session into a heated debate, between the rides, & the officials. The problem was, No official wet testing had been done so far this season. No body has tested their bikes in wet conditions. And nobody had any wet setup information, to dial into their machines. The riders didn’t like the idea of finishing the last part of the Qualifying in different circumstances to the rest of the program. After a short delay, Part three of the Qualifying took place.

Off the pace all weekend was HM Plant’s Ryuichi Kiyonari, back on the fourth row & Relentless Suzuki’s Josh Brookes just ahead on the third row. The quickest Evo bikes were Team WFR Racings Alex Lowes & Glen Richards who joined HM Plant’s Kiyonari fourth row start. Qualifying on the last row at Croft, And for the first time this season was Splitlath Motorsport’s Jenny Tinmouth. Still struggling, with set up & parts issues, Jenny would finally get her first race.

Front Row Grid

  1. Shane Byrne                –           HM Plant Honda
  2. Michael Laverty          –           Swan Yamaha
  3. Loris Baz                     –           Motorpoint Yamaha
  4. Michael Rutter            –           Rapid Solicitors Bathams Ducati


Race 1

There was a short delay in the start of race 1 due to changeable weather conditions. The race now shortened to 18 laps, & declared wet.

HM Plant’s Shakey Byrne (67) led the pack around the first corner. Then Laverty, Rutter & Hopkins. Making history was Jenny Tinmouth (100) with her first official BSB race for Splitlath Motorsport, but this was short lived after sliding off in lap 2. Making the same mistake in lap 3 was 2010 EVO cup champion, Steve Brogan (19) Jentin Racing. Shakey by now had almost 3 seconds advantage & it was clear that those with dry tyres or intermediate fronts were going have the edge. Lap 6 & Rutters gear lever breaks. Lap 8, race leader by far HM Plant’s Shakey Byrne’s engine blows up along the start/ finish straight. Kirkham’s Samsung’s Crescent Suzuki leads. The race is red flagged & the pace car sent out.

John Kirkham leads as the pace car comes in & goes on to win his first BSB race. It’s a Samsung Crescent Suzuki one – two, with MSS Colchester Kawasaki’s Stuart Easton third. Alex Lowes races to very impressive 5th & strengthens his EVO standings. HM Plants Ryuichi Kiyonari finishes last in the race, almost being lapped by Kirkham, who started the race from 16th position on the grid.   

Result – BSB

  1. Jon Kirkham         –           Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki
  2. John Hopkins       –           Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki
  3. Gary Mason         –           MSS Colchester Kawasaki
  4. Loris Baz              –           Motorpoint Yamaha


Result – EVO

  1. Alex Lowes           –           Team WFR Honda
  2. Glen Richards       –           Team WFR Honda
  3. Tom Tunstall         –           Doodson Motorsport BMW
  4. Patrick Muff         –           Tyco Honda


Front Row Grid for race 2

  1. Jon Kirkham
  2. John Hopkins
  3. Gary Mason
  4. Shane Byrne


Race 2

 Gary Mason, MSS Colchester leads the race into turn one, followed by John Hopkins, Shakey Byrne then Jon Kirkham.

It wasn’t long before the drama began to unfold. Swan Yamaha’s Michael Laverty made a lunge into sunny in & chopping in front of race one winner Kirkham. Running wide, he comes up the inside of Kirkham at sunny out but Kirkham sticks to his lines & the two come together sliding off into the soft barrier. Back onto the start/ finish straight for lap two & Mason leads Byrne who powers by before turn one to take the lead.

The pace car is brought out whilst the track is made safe & the race resumes on lap 4.

Byrne resumes the lead & with Mason, Hopkins & Rutter. Making progress towards the front is MSS Colchester’s Stuart Easton. It’s not long before he is up to third position behind team mate Gary Mason. HM Plant’s Shane Byrne sets his own pace a couple of seconds out in front by the midway point. Easton slips up into second.

Lap 11, Dan Linfoot catches the back wheel of Pete Hickman at tower bends in front of Rutter, & the bike cartwheels over the back of Hickman.

Josh Brookes is sitting in fifth place by lap 13, whilst John Hopkins finds a way by Gary Mason at tower bends. Brookes pulls the same move on lap fifteen to move into fourth position & just off the podium.

Both Hill & Kiyonari struggle at Croft this weekend. Hill, because of his fall in round 2, & Kiyonari, because of set up issues.

HM Plant’s Shakey Byrne wheelies across the line to take the win.

The best place Evo bike is once again is Team WFR’s Alex Lowes who finishes in 11th position.

Result – BSB

  1. Shane Byrne          –           HM Plant Honda
  2. Stuart Easton        –           MSS Colchester Kawasaki
  3. John Hopkins        –           Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki
  4. Josh Brookes         –           Relentless Suzuki by TAS


Result – EVO

  1. Alex Lowes           –           Team WFR Honda
  2. Glen Richards       –           Team WFR Honda
  3. Barry Burrell         –           Buildbase BMW
  4. Simon Andrews    –           PR Racing Kawasaki


Standings after Round 3

  1. Shane Byrne          –           HM Plant Honda
  2. John Hopkins        –           Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki
  3. Stuart Easton        –           MSS Colchester Kawasaki
  4. Ryuichi Kiyonari   –           HM Plant Honda
  5. Tommy Hill           –           Swan Yamaha
  6. Jon Kirkham          –           Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki


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