The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team which will contest the 2014 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship has been unveiled at the MCN London Motorcycle Show with riders Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Stuart Easton set to do battle for the title.
Having been announced by the Penrith-based Paul Bird Motorsport concern last year, the line up sees triple MCE BSB champion Byrne and double British Supersport champion Easton back together on the potent Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja in a bid to win back the title they narrowly surrendered last season in a thrilling finale.
37-year-old Londoner Shakey remains with the team for a third successive year and is looking to again challenge for the crown he last won in 2012. Last year he led the title race for most of the season but just lost out to Alex Lowes in the very last race of the season. Byrne, who now lives on the Isle of Sheppey, has won a record 51 MCE BSB races in his career and now goes in search of that record-breaking fourth title.
Easton, meanwhile, returns to the MCE BSB class after a successful year whereby he won the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship, again in dramatic fashion. The diminutive 30-year-old Scotsman from Hawick last raced for the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team in 2012 where he scored a podium at Oulton Park but it was the year he was returning from serious injuries meaning a title challenge was unlikely.
With Byrne and Easton back together, it significantly marks the third year that title sponsors Rapid Solicitors are backing Paul Bird's team with a remarkable record of success. Since the collaboration in 2012, the team has won one MCE BSB title, finished runner-up also and taken the 2012 National Superstock 1000 title. During the two-year association, the team has taken 23 victories, scored 25 additional podiums, set 11 pole positions and claimed nine fastest laps.
Shane Byrne: "Last season was difficult and to lose the championship in the very last race of the season was tough to take but we did a great job all year long and it was unfortunate it didn't work out. But this is my team and this is my bike and we can hopefully turn it around this year. I'm even more determined to win back the title after coming so close last year and with the backing of Rapid Solicitors and our other sponsors, we have every chance."
Stuart Easton: "The season away from Superbikes was exactly what I needed to regain my fitness and to come back as British Supersport champion has given me all the confidence I need. Like Shakey, I feel at home in this team and now I'm fully fit, I can have no excuses. I loved winning races last year so the plan is to continue that into the Superbike class and hopefully we can sustain a serious title challenge."
Stuart Bland, Team Co-ordinator: "We have worked hard over winter to put an even more competitive package under both Shakey and Stuart and hopefully, we can win back the title. The team has some brilliant and wonderfully loyal sponsors in place and our thanks go to Rapid Solicitors, RapidMegNeg.com, Hager, Fuchs Silkolene, MAC Tools, Sparshatts and the many other high profile companies who we want to share in our success. Thanks also to Ross Burridge from Kawasaki, whereby as the manufacturer's priority team, we at PBM and Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki hope to be celebrating another title with them come the season's end."
The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki MCE British Superbike Championship Team will run alongside the PBM MotoGP Team with riders Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes. Additionally, Paul Bird, who is competing today on the opening round of the BTRDA Rally Championship, plans a full campaign in his Ford Focus WRC07. Both bike racing teams will be sporting the colours of British Racing Green in deference to the team's proud British heritage.