The Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team of Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwin head for the opening round of the 2016 MCE British Superbike Championship at Silverstone this weekend in confident mood as they begin the latest chapter in the Paul Bird Motorsport success story.
After four years aboard Kawasaki machinery in MCE BSB, which has seen 39-year-old Londoner Byrne claim two titles and finish runner-up twice also, the Penrith-based team has switched to fully factory-supported Be Wiser Ducati Panigale Rs for the 12-round campaign this year.
The team and riders have done lots of work during pre-season testing, which culminated in four-times MCE BSB champion Byrne heading the timesheets for much of last week’s test at Donington Park, whilst 26-year-old Irwin, from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, finished inside the top eight to continue his transition from the British Supersport class, where he was a former Cup champion.
The return to Ducati heralds a move back to the marque which gave the PBM team many of their early successes and which saw the late Steve Hislop and Byrne winning back to back BSB titles in 2002/2003. Shakey also won two World Superbike Championship races for the MonsterMob Ducati team at Brands Hatch in 2003 and five years later lifted his second MCE BSB title for the Airwaves Ducati team.
Shane Byrne: “It’s seemed to take forever for the season to come round this year for some reason, but finally, the MCE BSB season is upon us and is getting underway. It’s been a very long winter, especially after losing my title last year, so I can’t wait to get started even more so than normal. Testing has been good and it will be good to get back on track on the Be Wiser Ducati to start another attempt to win both me and the team the title back. I have a reasonably good record at Silverstone in recent years, so I hope we can continue that as it would be a fantastic start to the season.”
Glenn Irwin: “Now that testing is over, I’m really looking forward to starting my MCE BSB career in earnest by getting out there and doing some racing on the Be Wiser Ducati. I’m absolutely buzzing for this opportunity, I have a great team around me and I’m feeling pretty good going into Silverstone. I won a Supersport race round there last year and finished on the podium in the other one so the track suits me, although this weekend is going to be a totally different challenge. The plan this weekend, first and foremost, is to score points and then to see how high up the leaderboard we can get, but it’s a case of being realistic.”
Image courtesy of Jon Jessop: Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Glenn Irwin with the Be Wiser Ducatis.