Shane Byrne will begin his MCE British Superbike title defence this weekend as the brand-new season gets underway at Donington Park.
Shakey secured a record-breaking fifth title in 2016 after a season-long battle with the returning Leon Haslam, whilst riding the new factory-backed Ducati Panigale R.
Byrne ended the season with an impressive nine race wins and seven podiums, with his championship win meaning that the Paul Bird Motorsport outfit also had their hands on a fifth title.
With further development work to the Panigale R machine ongoing, and a couple of solid pre-season tests, Byrne is raring to go in his sixth successive season with the team.
The 2017 season will also see Byrne teaming up with crew chief Giovanni Crupi once more.
Ahead of the season opener, Byrne said: “Well, finally round one is here. It’s been a long winter to be honest, having won last year, I’ve been itching to go racing again ever since. Pre-season testing was good but not ideal as some of the parts we wanted to test weren’t available.
“But hopefully those parts will be with us shortly and will certainly be worth the wait. The plan at Donington is to push as hard as I can throughout the weekend to get my title defence off to the best possible start.”
Byrne should be full of confidence as he heads to the Leicestershire circuit, having won the last three races there. He has also picked up five, second place finishes in the previous five races before that.
At last week’s official BSB test at Donington Park, Byrne posted the second fastest time in the damp and tricky conditions.
The first action of the season gets underway this Friday with the first practice sessions of the year. The Datatag Extreme Qualifying session will then take place on Saturday afternoon, at 16:02.
The two races are scheduled to take place at the regular times of 13:30 and 16:30 respectively.