Shane Byrne marked his return to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship after two years on the world stage by shattering the four-year-old outright Brands Hatch Indy circuit lap record to claim pole position for the opening round today.
The HM Plant Honda rider overcame the challenge of his team-mate, Ryuichi Kiyonari, the reigning champion. They had both bettered the record in the second element of the Superpole grid decider but then upped the stakes in the final session.
Kiyonari struck first with a lap of 45.192 seconds on the 1.2079-mile Kent circuit, prompting a fierce response from Byrne of 45.171sec and next time around he improved on that with a time of 45.112sec.
Byrne said: "Pole is great, the record is brilliant, but it was not the most important thing on the agenda when I went out there. The races are a different matter, and they will be hard."