British Superbikes: Cool hand Alex Lowes holds nerve in duel with Shane Byrne to claim maiden title

Title holder Byrne shocked on thrilling day at Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch

The 23-year-old Alex Lowes from Lincoln claimed the first major title of his career when he won the British Superbike title at Brands Hatch yesterday in a thrillingly dramatic and desperately dangerous skirmish on a soaking track against the triple title-holder, Shane Byrne.

Lowes’ Samsung Honda team has been grooming him throughout the season in the art of maintaining composure in the heat of superbike battles at up to 200mph, and the effort paid off as he held his nerve to win the title by seven points.

“I just saw the 67 bike coming up, and round Brands Hatch that’s not something you want to see,” Lowes said, referring to his rival’s riding number. “But I thought, ‘Keep focus’. I gave it my best and it was enough.”

The Australian rider Josh Brookes won the race on his Tyco Suzuki, to compete a treble victory on the Kent circuit at the weekend. But his effort was overshadowed by the intensity of the Lowes-Byrne confrontation. Whoever finished in front would take the title in this last of the season’s 26 races. Both had crashed out of the preceding race, which placed Lowes on the third row of the grid for the finale and Byrne in a lowly 22nd position. Byrne therefore had to cope with spray from other riders, as well the British superbiker’s normal handicaps of no mirrors, no radio contact and no traction control.

But the Londoner blazed through to 12th place on the first place, and on lap seven surged past Lowes. It was hard to imagine that Lowes could retaliate, and Byrne looked set to collect  a record fourth British title. But with four laps to go Lowes slid past Byrne as they dropped towards Graham Hill bend, and retained the positon to the finish. “I just couldn’t roll over and let Alex go, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” Byrne said.

Lowes started the first race of the day with a three-point lead in the standings. But the crowd at the right-hand Druids hairpin roared in disbelief as Lowes, who was holding a position just outside Brookes’s Suzuki, slid out of the race and onto the grass. “As I came around Druids, Josh hit my bike and I went down,” Lowes said. “It wasn’t my fault – I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not upset with myself – I can’t get angry about things that are beyond my control.”

Brookes said later: “People started bunching up outside of me. I thought, ‘I’m in uneasy territory.’ The next thing it felt like someone had grabbed my arm. I could see a flash of blue and figured it was Alex. When I came around on the next lap I saw the marks on the track and thought he’d gone down.”

Lowes must have felt his title chances had all but disappeared. But a few laps later Byrne, who was then leading the points chase, also slid off at Druids. The damp track had claimed both championship contenders and Lowes reclaimed his three-point lead.

Lee Costello, a 26-year-old British Superbike rookie, grabbed the lead on his Hallsall Kawasaki, from James Ellison on a Milwaukee Yamaha. But they had selected a wet-weather front tyre and felt their grip deteriorating on the drying track. Brookes, however, had chosen to run on intermediates, and began to hoover up a 20-second deficit. He was still 2.2 seconds down entering the last lap, but managed to swoop inside Costello on the final turn.

“Midway through the race I thought I’d made a wrong tyre choice and got disheartened,” Brookes said. “I had to take so many risks on the wet parts of the track to keep my speed up.”

peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
Life and Style

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?