MCE British Superbike Champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne enjoyed a positive first test of 2017 in Portimao at the weekend, lapping a similar pace to WSB star Marco Melandri over the two days on track.
Testing the same spec Panigale R he took his record fifth BSB title with at Brands Hatch last October, Byrne was happy to get some laps in as early as possible before delivery of a number of new components from Ducati Corse ahead of their testing schedule in March.
“It was good to get out and blow off the cobwebs after the winter,” Byrne told MCN from Portugal. “We didn’t have any new parts so we were basically working on the same bike we had at Brands, but it’s fair to say we’re in a lot better position than we were this time last year!
“It’s always difficult when you’re on track with WSB bikes as you want to compare but they have full electronics and even qualifying tyres. I was pretty happy with how close we were to them on race rubber but then they stuck qualifiers in.”
One new component Byrne did try was the new blipper system now permitted within BSB rules to allow for clutchless gear shifts without coming off the throttle.
“It was good to try the new blipper system, but the software was a bit inconsistent,” he explained. “It’s not really something we can fix so it needs to be looked at by Motec but that’s exactly why we’ve come out here so early, it would be a bit of a worry if we rocked up to our first test in March and found out it wasn’t working so well!”
Byrne and team-mate Glenn Irwin will now head to the Jerez circuit to complete a further two days testing before returning to the UK.
“Leon [Haslam] and Luke [Mossey] have already been out at Jerez, so we’ll be able to compare our times with what they did last week and see where we’re sitting ahead of the first proper tests in March.”
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