Ellison and Byrne the winners as BSB blasts into action at Donington Park
James Ellison and Shakey Byrne were the winners as the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship blasted into action at Donington Park.
James Ellison put in a dominant performance to take victory in the opening race of the season at Donington Park, holding off Byrne, while Josh Brookes claimed third after a thrilling last lap battle with Honda rider Dan Linfoot, with Peter Hickman and Tommy Bridewell taking fifth and sixth.
Off the line it was Byrne who made the best start to get the hole shot into Redgate, while pole man Ryuichi Kiyonari dropped back to seventh. An early crash at Melbourne hairpin for Rhalf Lo Turco forced an appearance from the safety car, which pitted at the end of lap four.
Almost immediately, Ellison moved into the lead and was able to stretch a small margin over Byrne, while youngster Danny Buchan moved into third with a move on Stuart Easton. Byrne was able to set a new lap record, but Ellison held him off to take the early championship lead.
Buchan crashed out from his potential podium slot, elevating the battle between Linfoot and Brookes. Brookes made a move stick at the Esses on the final lap but Linfoot attempted to fight back, the pair almost touching wheels as they crossed the line.
Local rider Christian Iddon finished an impressive seventh, despite suffering from sickness all weekend ahead of Nottingham racer Chris Walker. Michael Laverty and another local rider, Richard Cooper, completed the top-10.
Kiyonari on the other hand dropped to 14th place, claiming just two points having started from pole. The second BSB race starts at 16.30.
The second race saw a thrilling battle for the lead between Honda’s Dan Linfoot and four time champion Byrne. The pair exchanged positions regularly in some fantastically exciting racing around the undulating curves of the Donington Park circuit, with Byrne stamping his authority just a couple of laps from the end.
Linfoot had to settle for second place ahead of Byrne’s team mate Stuart Easton. The trio lapped as one for much of the race, but the intense battle allowed Peter Hickman to join them, with the RAF Reserves rider finishing fourth. Local rider Christian Iddon and Australian Josh Brookes completed the top six, while Kiyonari’s race day went from bad to worse after crashing out at Coppice before half distance.
Bike racing returns to Donington Park next weekend (11-12 April) with Thundersport GB, featuring the opening round of the FIM Sidecar World Championship. Tickets are available in advance for £12 per day.