Kagayamaleaves Byrne in the shade

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The Independent Online

Yukio Kagayama hit double top in the British Superbike Championship with a brilliant seventh-round performance here yesterday, leaving the runaway series leader Shane Byrne distinctly second best.

The Japanese Rizla Suzuki rider, who is expected to ride for Suzuki's MotoGP team in next Sunday's British Grand Prix at Donington Park, showed his best form of the season, shattering the lap record at the Northamptonshire circuit as he charged through the pack to win both races.

Kagayama led a third of the way through the opening race after disposing of the challenges of the early leaders, Michael Rutter on the Renegade Red Bull Ducati and Kagayama's team-mate John Reynolds. But Byrne was in the thick of the battle on the MonsterMob Ducati.

Byrne said: "He was pushing me hard, and I made a few mistakes. Then at the hairpin I had a momentary problem with the gears. I had changed down, but as I tried to change back up, I couldn't select anything and was left in neutral. By then Yukio had gone."

Kagayama had a six-second lead at one point, but Byrne pegged him back, halving his advantage at the end.

Kagayama said: "I really like this circuit - winning is a very good feeling. This victory is dedicated to the team that has worked so hard for me, but the next will be for me."

The Rizla Suzuki rider lived up to his word in the second race as he again charged through, catching Byrne for the lead in the closing stages before going ahead on the penultimate lap.

Byrne had his Ducati ahead briefly as they powered through the chicane. He said: "Yukio made a mistake, but I was too hot going in and ran on the grass. I kept the power on, but he had gone back in front. It would have been good to win the races, but I have extended my lead and am still up there."

Rutter, who finished the opening race in fourth place behind Steve Plater's Honda, took third in race two and trails Byrne by 144 points in the title stakes.