Byrne: Haslam has more to lose than me

by Shane Byrne on 14th October 2016

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne was speaking to FUCHS Silkolene, one of the main partners of the four-time British Superbike Champion

Photo: BSB/Double Red

So here we are, the final British Superbikes round of the season – my chance to clinch an unprecedented fifth championship title.

I’d be lying if I said I felt exactly the same as I did before every other round, but I am relatively calm. There are so many factors to riding that are beyond your control, there’s no point in getting hetup about things. You can’t control the weather, or a technical breakdown, or what a rival does. All I can control is my effort and my focus, so that’s what I’m concentrating on this week.

The preparation doesn’t change. It’s my job to steer the bike – and I go to Brands Hatch to win three races.

I read Leon Haslam’s press release this week saying I’ve got it all to lose and the pressure is on me as I have the championship lead. That’s easy to say when you’re in his position, but it’s not how I see it at all.

Leon has finished second in the championship on two occasions. If I walk away as champion this weekend, he’ll just be another runner-up again. He’s got a lot more to lose than me because at the end of the day the history books say I’ve already done it four times.

Photo: BSB/Robert Gray

I have known Leon around the paddock for years and we were team-mates in 2002, albeit in different classes. It’s fair to say there has been a bit of niggle between us over the years, but we’ve both grown up now and we respect each other as riders. He won the last World Superbike race of the season last year so he’s certainly no mug and I don’t underestimate him as a challenger.

A lot is made of Brands Hatch being my home track and yes, I do tend to do well there – but I haven’t ridden there any more than anyone else. We didn't quite hit the nail on the head at Brands earlier in the season but even so we won two races. Things have moved on and we should have a better feeling on the bike this weekend than we did in August.

It was a difficult weekend in Assen last time out. It was very cold which meant we had to use the hard tyre. I always favour the soft tyre as it suits the bike and it suits the way I ride, but it just wasn’t an option. I’ve never ridden that tyre on the Ducati because, frankly, I don’t like it.

Even so, and even though Leon is always saying how much he loves the hard tyre, in the first race we crossed the line almost together.

In the second race I got off to a terrible start but I caught up with Leon and with a couple more laps I might’ve overtaken him. That gives me confidence that even if it is too cold for the soft tyre at Brands, we can still take it to Leon. There is nothing to fear.

This is a position I have been in before and one that I relish. Hopefully a new page in the history books will be written this weekend as I lift that trophy once again.

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