36-year-old Shane Byrne is anything but Shakey when it comes to racing and more importantly winning; the reigning MCE Insurance British Superbike champion (and WSB and MotoGP veteran) is close to surpassing the all-time record of race wins and will be vying for a record-breaking fourth title this season.
Just two wins now dramatically stand between Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari’s record of 43 victories but with the Japanese rider returning to the grid after lifting the Asian title last year, the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider isn’t expecting to have it all his own way on track this season.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Samsung Honda
Race wins: 43
Pole positions: 10
“It is great to have Kiyo coming back; I think that it means that the stats will then be undisputed as we have both had the opportunity to better our winning record and we will both have an equal crack at it. There are some really good people at Honda and I wish them all the best, but we both have three titles and now want four so I want to get on that as soon as possible; and I want to be the one that ends the season at the top of that list!
“Kiyo is a lovely guy and I really like him personally and he can be blindingly fast. I think the championship format will help him more now too. Everybody says it depends which Kiyo is at a race depends on his performance but I believe he has just won the Asian Championship and is coming back hungry to do the same in BSB. Although I hope he hasn’t found too much form as I want to beat his record!”
Josh Brookes, Tyco Suzuki
Best Championship result: 2nd
Race wins: 11
Pole positions: 8
“Josh is probably one of the most exciting guys I have ever raced against. I like his style and the fact that he is definitely not a push over and says what he thinks! As a rider he is refreshing and will be a strong challenger again this year for sure. He has continuity with the Suzuki so I expect him to be even stronger and dialled in straight away; he can be a hard one to beat!”
Alex Lowes, Samsung Honda
Best Championship result: 4th
Race wins: 2
Pole positions: 5
“Alex really impressed me last year and he started steady but built up and got stronger throughout the season. In 2011 he was jumping on different bikes and crashing them too but last year he got it together and I think he will work well with the Samsung Honda team. He has the raw speed and has calmed down which means he is crashing less so he should be really strong; plus the fact he is a brave little sod!”
James Ellison , Milwaukee Yamaha
Best Championship result: 2nd
Race wins: 6
Pole positions: 0
“I think James has a big point to prove this year; he is back with the team and is jumping onto the 2011 championship-winning bike. He has big shoes to fill as he effectively replaces Tommy Hill who won a lot of races on the Yamaha. James will need to do the same. I think he will also need to keep an eye out for his team-mate Josh Waters too; he is a bit of an unknown quantity as it is his first season here but you don’t get two championship wins on the back of a Frosties packet!”