This forthcoming Easter weekend sees the Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team start their title defencewhen the opening round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship gets underway at Donington Park.
Reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is gunning for title number seven after clinching last year’s crown in dramatic fashion in the very last race of the season for Paul Bird’s Lake District-based team and the 41-year-old Londoner is confident of further success on what will be his third successive year aboard the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R.
Also staying with the ultra-successful PBM Team based in the village of Langwathby is Northern Ireland’s Glenn Irwin who also starts his third term aboard the second of the Bologna-supplied Be Wiser Ducati Panigale Rs. The 28 year old from Carrickfergus secured his first BSB victory last season but saw his title challenge thwarted due to injuries sustained mid-season but is back and ready to challenge for honours this year.
Pre-season testing was badly hit with inclement weather but despite this, positive steps were made in both Spain and at Donington Park last week meaning both riders are confident going into the opening two races on Bank Holiday Monday at the East Midlands track.
Shane Byrne: “2017 was a long time ago it seems but it’s all about this season now and I’m really looking forward to getting back racing at Donington Park this weekend. This year I intend to get past morning warm-up which will be a start after what happened last year! Testing went OK, but I wouldn’t say it gave a true representation of where we are at as I think there is much more to come from us. We need this weekend to see where our opponents are at, so we can build what we need into a successful championship-winning year again. The team have done a great job and I just can’t wait to get started.”
Glenn Irwin: “I am looking forward to starting our season off this weekend at Donington Park. I feel Ihave made a big step up over the off season along with the team understanding what I want from the bike to make it a little bit better. It's great to be thinking that going into race weekend, I can target the podium in both races as a minimum. That said it's a strong series with a lot of depth and I'll not be resting on my laurels, although it was good to get a podium at Donington last year. The hard work has started but I’m confident we have what it takes to be a title contender this season.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-Ordinator: “After our pre-season testing and having a few weeks back at the workshop, Team PBM are ready and raring to go for the first round at hopefully a dry and sunny Donington Park. Shakey, of course, will have his usual target on his back but as he's shown over the years he's a tough nut to crack! But he's ready to go and looking for a strong start. As for Glenn, he's feeling strong after a good pre-season under his belt but knows this is the year he needs to step up to the plate and deliver the results we all know he's capable of. Most importantly, we are looking to come away with the strongest results possible for both riders.”
There is live action on Eurosport and on the Eurosport player throughout the weekend with Datatag Qualifying on Sunday from 16.15 and the Bennetts BSB races live on Monday at 13.30 and 16.30.
Images courtesy of Double Red Photographic: Shane Byrne (67) and Glenn Irwin (2) in action at last week’s Donington Park test.