Lowes doubles up as Westmoreland snatches final title fighter place
Round 9 Donington Park 8 September
Alex Lowes has upped the pressure on his MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship rivals by claiming a double win in a hard-fought ninth round at Donington Park, which decided the top six riders who will become the Title Fighters in the Showdown.
Samsung Honda’s Lowes was full of confidence from his winning double in the previous round at Cadwell Park and he narrowly took the first win from Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, and it was even closer next time out with the margin just 0.058 seconds.
Lowes said: “I don’t think I have ever pushed as hard as I did at the end of those races but now the Showdown is all important and I go into it only six points down on Shakey so it is going to be lots of fun and I will give it everything.”
Lowes and Byrne had gone into the Donington Park races knowing that together with Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes they had already secured places among the elite Title Fighters, but for the chasing pack it became an epic battle for the final three positions.
James Ellison ensured his place with a strong and determined ride into third place in the opening race and he reflected: “That was a big relief, it was a strong race and I was really happy to be able to run at the pace of Shane and Alex.”
Former three times title winner Ryiuichi Kiyonari sealed his place with thirteenth and eleventh places on his Samsung Honda and that left a straight fight for the one remaining slot between the Buildbase BMW team-mates James Westmoreland and Jon Kirkham.
Pole-sitter Westmoreland finished the all important second race in fourth place while Kirkham ran seventh, leaving them level on points in the closest ever finish to the Main Season, with Westmoreland taking the verdict on the tie-breaker.
Westmoreland said: “It is just a great feeling and I am so relieved to have qualified. I couldn’t have pushed harder. I was at the limit but now I have broken through and it is brilliant. Now I am going to come out fighting at Assen.”
The Showdown kicks off at Assen over the weekend of 20-22 September as five different teams representing five different manufacturers with riders from three different nationalities battle for the 2013 MCE BSB title.