Riding with confidence after scoring two podium finishes at the last round at Oulton Park, Shakey secured his best starting place of the season so far with a dramatic and blisteringly fast final lap of the day.
Rizla Suzuki racer James Haydon struggled through practice to find a comfortable set-up on his GSX-R1000 at the bumpy and twisty track but found extra pace in the qualifying session and will start from the head of the third row in ninth place. Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari took pole position.
Superbike racing starts at 13:40 on Sunday, May 21st at the 2.176-mile long County Kildare circuit. It will be televised on ITV1 from 13:30 and on Sky Sports 2 from 20:30.
“My final qualifying lap was not so bad…All I can remember of the lap was coming down the finish straight and seeing my mechanics on the wall urging me on. I thought it had better be a good lap and it was. I was right on the limit, that’s for sure.
“Well done to my team for giving me a great bike to ride. It’s nice to be on the front row and that gives me the best chance for a decent start in tomorrow’s races. The target is the podium or better.”
“All weekend I have been working hard to get the feedback I want from my Rizla Suzuki and it didn’t gel with me right until the qualifying session. We made some changes just before qualification and immediately I felt more comfortable. I could push harder and was able to get inside the top 10 on the grid.
“I wish there was another practice session before the races because we have made a breakthrough and I think we can make a lot more progress quickly. Now I know I can push the limits on my GSX-R1000 I’ll be looking to fight my way through in the races.”
Niall Mackenzie, Race Operations Manager:
“As a rider Shakey is a little bit special and when he turns on the style you can’t help but smile. He did that today on his last lap and starting from second is his best grid position of the season by far.
“Congratulations to Shakey’s crew for the quick tyre change right at the end that allowed him to get out for his final qualifying lap. Shakey is one of the fastest riders on race tyres as well - for sure he will be fighting at the sharp end tomorrow for the podium places.
“James showed great determination and resolve to work through the problems he was having with the handling of his bike. He found a fast set up at the end of the day and was unlucky to miss qualifying on the second row. He now has forward momentum and is a better racer than qualifier, so we are expecting a strong showing from him in the races.”
Qualifying times: 1: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:38.076, 2: SHANE BYRNE (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.296, 3: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.406, 4: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.738, 5: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.786, 6: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.846, 7: Karl Harris (Honda) +1.141, 8: Michael Laverty (Honda) +1.714, 9: JAMES HAYDON (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.762, 10: Glen Richards (Honda) +1.907.
Audi Performance Award: 1: Lavilla 34, 2: Haslam 32, 3: Harris 29, 4: Rutter 19, 5: Kiyonari 16, 6: Rea 14, 7: SHANE BYRNE (RIZLA SUZUKI) 12, 8: Dean Thomas (Kawasaki) 11, 9: JAMES HAYDON (RIZLA SUZUKI) 10, 10: Laverty 3.