British superbike title contenders Shane Byrne and Tommy Hill and rising World Supersport star Sam Lowes are all leading candidates to move to MotoGP in Paul Bird’s all-British squad next season.
Bird’s plan to expand to a two-rider effort in 2013 has been approved by MotoGP bosses and he will go ahead with running one Aprilia ART machine again.
The second bike will use Bird’s own designed and developed chassis, built by UK-based specialists GPMS and using an Aprilia motor. He anticipates the new bike to be ready for track testing at the end of November.
Bird is determined to stick to his ethos of only hiring British talent, and a prime candidate is his current PBM Kawasaki rider Byrne, who is challenging for a third BSB title.
Bird has also spoken at length to reigning BSB champion Hill and has also approached Lowes, who has caught the eye with victories in the Donington Park and Motorland Aragon World Supersport races.
Bird told MCN: “Sam hasn’t got the experience but he has definitely got the ability and the desire and we would be looking at the long-term with somebody like him. The only trouble is they are all up for it.
"Tommy needs to get his face in MotoGP. You can’t just come from BSB onto a factory 1000cc prototype, you’ve got to look at CRT and put your face in the frame.”
Byrne hasn’t raced in MotoGP since 2005 but at 35, Bird says he is top of his wish list.
Byrne tested James Ellison’s Aprilia ART bike at Catalunya earlier this season and Bird added: “I’ve never seen him as focussed and as fit as he is now, so he would definitely be my number one choice.”