Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is looking forward to kicking off his British Superbike Championship defence this weekend despite admitting to feeling slightly under-prepared. The Londoner heads to Brands Hatch on a five race winning streak at the Kent circuit and having stayed with Paul Bird Motorsport for the new season, he feels the continuity will make up for the lack of winter mileage.
“For the first time ever in my career I’ve stayed with my team from the year before and this year especially, we have proved the benefit of that consistency given the lack of testing. It’s my same team, the same bike and even the same sponsors as last year but we could have done with some more testing. I’d be lying if I said we were 100% ready to go racing but we’ll do what we need to in practice at Brands Hatch and we will be ready to race on Sunday. One thing’s for sure, we are much better prepared than some teams and I’m really looking forward to going racing again.”
Byrne has a new teammate in reigning Superstock 1000 champion Keith Farmer and the Northern Irishman is keeping a lid on expectations ahead of his BSB debut.
“I am looking forward to the first meeting at Brands Hatch just to get my teeth into it. I am with my existing team so am just aiming a steady first round with a couple of solid finishes and to learn the bike and set up. The plan is after Brands Hatch to chip away and gradually get faster over the next couple of rounds as this is a big learning curve for me. I have a good team-mate to learn from and to point me in the right direction so I am very excited for this season.”
Team Owner Paul Bird is much more bullish about the squad’s chances and is intent on retaining the title this year.
“We said we weren’t coming back to BSB to finish second last year and we didn’t so now our focus is on retaining our title. To keep hold of both Shakey and Keith was our priority and we aim to give them the best package to do the business on which is the Kawasaki ZX-10R. This is an historic new chapter for us and a tenth British title would be perfect for the team and the sponsors both old and new, which I’m pleased to welcome. The boys have worked hard over winter in getting the bikes ready and despite the lack of testing, we are ready to go.”