Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and the PBM Team get their title defence underway this weekend when the opening round of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship takes place at Donington Park.
The Be Wiser Ducati squad sealed both the rider’s and the team’s fifth crown last year aboard the brand-new, factory-backed Ducati Panigale R with Londoner Byrne taking nine wins and seven podiums, to add to his championship successes in 2003, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
With further development work to the machine ongoing, and a couple of solid pre-season tests, Byrne is raring to go in his sixth successive season with Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team which will see him team up with crew chief Giovanni Crupi once more.
Following an impressive rookie season in the British Superbike class in 2016, Ulsterman Glenn Irwin is also back for a second term on the Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R and looking to add to his pair of podium finishes from last year.
Irwin ended the season with a string of wins at the Sunflower Trophy in his native Northern Ireland and came close to upsetting the established form book when he was challenging for victory at the Macau Grand Prix so hopes the experience gained last year stands him in better stead this year.
Byrne has a great record at Donington Park having won the last three races there and placed second in the five before that, so he’s hoping for maximum points. Irwin, meanwhile, enjoyed two solid points scoring rides at last September’s meeting and is a former winner in both the British Supersport and National Superstock 600 classes around the East Midlands track which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary since reopening.
Shane Byrne: “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.”
Glenn Irwin: “It's exciting to be putting my thoughts into writing for round one as it means we are nearly there. It fires me up to know Donington Park is just around the corner and we are ready to race this year. I really enjoyed the pre-season testing we did and I feel I have improved massively. 2017 will see a much more aggressive Glenn Irwin which I feel was missing last year so it’s very exciting.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “The Be Wiser Ducati race team are looking forward to the new season, which we are sure will be as competitive and challenging as last year. After all the pre-season testing we head to Donington Park this weekend expecting some good results as the Ducati worked well there last year. We are keen to see how our competition performs and hope the weather will be better than it was at the recent test.”
The official 2017 livery of the team was unveiled at last week’s official MCE BSB test at Donington Park which saw Shane Byrne post second fastest time in the damp conditions with Glenn Irwin sixth in the BSB class.