Byrne stormed into the lead at the first corner and never looked back, with Tommy Hill and Josh Brookes rounding off the podium places after Alex Lowes’ crash prompted the red flag as the rain started to fall.
The victory gives Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Byrne a 18-point lead with just 50 available from the final two races on Sunday afternoon, with Hill jumping above Lowes into third by just two points.
Byrne was fastest off the line, pipping pole-sitter Lowes into the first corner while Samsung Honda rider Michael Laverty jumped past James Westmoreland and Barry Burrell into third.
While his two main title rivals had started well, Tyco Suzuki’s Brookes had started poorly, dropping behind the Stuart Easton’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki bike before being caught by Hill for sixth.
Lowes and Laverty traded punches for second, before the Northern Irishman made an error under pressure coming into Paddock Hill Bend and dropped back to eighth.
Laverty’s error moved Easton up to third and he held the chasing pair of Hill and Brookes at bay for four laps, before being caught and racing away.
With last year’s dramatic finish fresh in the memory Hill was holding his nerve under the pressure of the Tyco Suzuki of Brookes as the rain started to fall on lap 14.
It took less than a lap for the first rider to fall, Lowes’ sliding off his bike at Clearways as the red flag fell – giving Byrne the victory by a clear margin, with Brookes losing vital points after failing to find a way past the Swan Yamaha of Hill.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, race one result:
Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 1 lap
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 1 lap
James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) 1 lap
Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 1 lap
Barry Burrell (Buildbase BMW) 1 lap
Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) 1 lap
Noriyuki Haga (Swan Yamaha) 1 lap
Jon Kirkham (Samsung Honda) 1 lap
Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) 1 lap
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings after Brands Hatch race one:
Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 633
Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 615
Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 586
Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) 584
Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) 565
Tommy Bridewell (Supersonic BMW) 553
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- Josh Brookes
- Tommy Hill