The British Superbike Series invaded Assen in Holland this past weekend for the 10th round for the championship, but for the first round of their Superbike Championship Showdown. And as the Showdown kicked off sparks flew straight away as it was a fierce battle between two of the series top contenders – the young Samsung Honda rider Alex Lowes against one of the championship’s winningest riders Rapid Solicitor Kawasaki’s Shane Byrne.
Lowes fired the first shot grabbing the pole position for the weekend. And when the lights went green in race one, he would also take the holeshot. But he would not go unchallenged as four of the other Showdown competitors would follow in tow – Byrne, James Ellison, and Josh Brookes.
Ellison took over at the front halfway through the first lap, but he would not hold it for long as the battle for the win would ultimately be between Byrne and Lowes. The pair would swap positions six times on the final lap, but in the end Lowes edged out Byrne for the win to close the gap in the championship to just one point.
"We were not giving up on that last lap that's for sure and I managed to pass him with only the last corner left and I was lucky to come out ahead,” Lowes said after the first-race battle. “If there had been more corners we would have done a few more moves I am sure. The bike was working well and the last three laps of that race were fantastic. Every time I tipped in to a corner Shakey [Byrne] was there but I gave it everything. If I don't win the title it will not be for the lack of trying."
Byrne also enjoyed the battle.
"That race was absolutely fantastic though the outcome for me was not perfect, finishing second, but races like that are what we live for and I am just pleased to have been part of it,” Byrne said. “I am disappointed to have lost the race obviously. Alex [Lowes] came past me, I got him back but he was back again. It just went on like that and it was a lot of fun and a good race. It was a great last lap and naturally like I say I was disappointed to come out second but we will try again for a different story in race two."
Unfortunately Ellison’s podium hopes were crushed by a mechanical issue that forced him to drop out of the race. Instead it was his new teammate on the Milwaukee Yamaha Tommy Bridewell who would get the last podium position. Bridewell battled with Byrne’s new teammate Noriyuki Haga and then Brookes before gapping the pair and ultimately securing the spot.
As Byrne had promised he was going to try for a different story for race two and he started it by grabbing the holeshot in front of Lowes, Haga and Showdown contender Brookes. But as it started differently, it ended differently. But not as Byrne planned. Instead it ended with a high-speed crash that was the fallout from the battle between him Lowes.
And while Ellison took the lead that was later reclaimed by Lowes, a decision made after the race (by the Race Director, the Judicial Clerk of the Course in the presence of the Riders' Judicial/Stewards Advisor in response to the contact made between Byrne and Lowes) disqualified Lowes from the race.
So in the end Ellison would rebound from his bad luck in race one to secure not only a podium, but a win.
American PJ Jacobsen would also get his first podium in his rookie season at Assen, finishing second after the Lowes disqualification. And Lowes’ teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari would round out the podium in third.
The Twitter world lit up with the Lowes-Byrne controversy and both parties responded.
“We all make mistakes,” Lowes said via twitter. “Sorry @67Shakey but, also thank you for race one. Absolutely loved it, mate. Glad your okay and can’t wait for Silverstone. #respect.”
“Thanks so much for all the Tweets guys and girls,” Byrne said via Twitter about the incident. “I’m ok, as ok as you can be jumping off at 270 kmh. Just FYI [for your information] @alexlowes22 and I are still cool. We didn’t decide the outcome of the result. It was left to the officials who’s job it is to decide with us and our teams present so please no more about it. It’s happened. The outcome’s sorted. Now I have to get fixed to be stronger at Silversone.”
Byrne still holds the championship lead by one point over Lowes, but Ellison moves up to third place in the championship - 21 points behind Byrne.
2013 Assen British Superbike Race One Results:
1. Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda)
2. Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
3. Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha)
4. Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki)
5. Noriyuki Haga (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
6. Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda)
7. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki)
8. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW)
9. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW)
10. Barry Burrell (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki)
2013 Assen British Superbike Race Two Results:
1. James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha)
2. PJ Jacobsen (Tyco Suzuki)
3. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda)
4. Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW)
5. James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW)
6. Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki)
7. Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda)
8. Danny de Boer (Bathams Honda)
9. Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda)
10. Barry Burrell (Quattro Plant Kawasaki)