Motorsport: Burning Rubber

Shane Byrne stormed to pole at Snetterton yesterday ahead of today's two British Superbike Championship races.

Shane Byrnes ahead at Snetterton

Shane Byrne stormed to pole at Snetterton yesterday ahead of today's two British Superbike Championship races.

In sunny, but windy conditions, the 2003 champ set a blistering lap of 1.04.908 in the dying moments of yesterday afternoon's 50-minute session, at the fast Norfolk track.

The former GP rider's pole is the first one for the Stobart Vent Axia Motorsport squad - owned and run by Penrith poultry magnate Paul Bird - for three years.

And to make it even more impressive, the hot lap was set on his spare bike after his No 1machine developed a problem during the session.

"I'm pretty pleased with that, I wonder if Birdy will give me a bonus," he said.

"I wasn't sure how we were going to go because we had a problem with the tyres on the No 1 bike. In the end I had to jump on the spare to run the qualifying tyres and we'd not even run the thing this weekend until the session began.

"But it wasn't a problem. Those last few minutes out there the bike felt great, we really did have a good package. The team have worked really hard and I'm hoping the good form will carry over into the races

"I like it around here, it's a fast old track and the fans are pretty mega too, so I think we're set for a good day and hopefully a couple of victories by the end of the day."

Second quickest was HM Plant Honda's Jonathan `Stormy' Rae, who finished the session .205 sec adrift of Byrne.

And Airwaves Ducati team-mates Gregorio Lavilla and Leon `Pocket Rocket' Haslam will make up the rest of the front row, lining up in third and fourth spots respectively.

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Den aims for No 3

Dennis Hobbs continues to force his way towards the top of the British Supersport Championship - and is gunning for his third win on the bounce this afternoon.

The Barnard Castle-based rider won the last two rounds of the fierce UK 600s series, after being denied finishes in the opening rounds earlier this year.

This afternoon he will line up his Padgett's Honda CBR-600 second on the grid behind Aussie Billy `Skippy' McConnell, and is going all-out for the hat-trick.

"I'm feeling pretty confident after winning the last two rounds and I can't really see any reason why I can't make it three in a row," he told Burning Rubber last night.

"I'd have been happier with the pole, but my first win this year was from second at Silverstone where I was also behind Billy. I know I can pass him and beat him, so I'm not too worried.

"I'm looking forward to the race. The bike has been running well all weekend, and if we can be as strong as we were at Oulton and Silverstone, we should be celebrating by the end of the day.

"I'm on 50 points in the standings and the leader has 32 on me, so I'm looking to close the gap as much as I can.

"It's still possible for me to win the championship, so the fight is on."

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