Byrne clinches third title
Shane Byrne secured a record-equalling third British Superbike crown in style as he celebrated a hat-trick of victories at Brands Hatch.
The 35-year-old had the edge over Josh Brookes going into the final round and Byrne increased his lead to 18 points when he won the opening race on Saturday afternoon ahead of the outgoing champion Tommy Hill of Swan Yamaha.
Byrne continued his winning momentum into the first of Sunday's races, defeating Brookes to maintain the advantage into the championship-deciding final race of the season.
Byrne needed to score just two points to add a third BSB crown to his 2003 and 2008 triumphs, but Brookes was determined to spoil the party, forging into the lead for much of the race.
Byrne was determined to sign off his title success on the best possible note, however, and on the penultimate lap he charged into the lead at Pilgrims Drop, taking the victory by a third of a second.
"I was happy following Josh, as I knew that it was enough, but then a the red mist came in front of the visor and I had to have a go," Byrne said.
"The team has given me such a fantastic bike that it would have been cruel not to have gone for the win and that was such a great race.
"It was amazing to have achieved this I have to thank the team who have made it all possible for me - I'm just the final part of the puzzle.
"I'm ecstatic, elated, excited and to take the title for a third time is such an achievement," added Byrne, who secured Kawasaki their first British crown in two decades.
Brookes' second place confirmed him as runner-up in the championship standings, ahead of Hill who took third position in the final race after Alex Lowes and Michael Laverty had crashed out of contention on the last lap at Paddock Hill Bend.