Triple British Superbike champion Shane Byrne is refusing to rule out a shock return to MotoGP in 2014.
The 36-year-old, who last raced in the premier class back in 2005, was strongly linked with a return to MotoGP for this season when he had the chance to move to Paul Bird’s squad.
Byrne rejected the chance to ride the new British-built PBM chassis with an Aprilia ART engine at the end of 2012 because he wanted to become the most successful BSB rider in history and the first to capture four domestic titles.
He is now the most successful rider in BSB history having passed Ryuichi Kiyonari’s number of wins earlier this season and he is currently on course for a fourth title riding for Bird’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki outfit.
Bird is poised to offer a new MotoGP deal to Irish rider Michael Laverty for 2014 after he impressed in the opening part of his rookie campaign.
But rumours emerged during last weekend’s Dutch TT in Assen that Byrne is seriously contemplating a MotoGP switch with Bird next year.
Speaking to MCN earlier today, Byrne said: “It would be mad of me to say I am not coming back to MotoGP next year but at this stage there are more pressing things to be getting on with like winning the BSB championship again.
"Paul will need a month or so and then he will be in a much better place to know what he is doing and then we will talk a bit more.”
Byrne says that despite rumours surfacing in Holland about a potential premier class return, he has not yet discussed that option with team owner Bird.
Multi-millionaire Bird is currently weighing up options for his MotoGP effort in 2014, with numerous avenues he can pursue like leasing a Yamaha YZR-M1 engine for his British-built PBM frame or buy Honda’s new production RC213V contender.
Another option is to continue with Aprilia’s ART machine, with the Italian factory planning major engine upgrades for next season.
Bird has previously hinted that 2013 might be his last in BSB and Byrne added: “It is not something that Paul and I have discussed as yet but I couldn’t be happier with the team.
"I am really happy with them and they are really happy with me. Paul knows he is going to get 110% from me and I know I get the same back from the team. But I get the impression that there won’t be two teams next year and obviously if one of them is going to go then the chances are it will be the BSB team.
"That’s not concrete at all and it might be that we have another great year in BSB and it carries on. Paul hasn’t said to me that there are one or two teams next year.
"The other factor is what Paul is going to be doing in MotoGP next year? I would far rather be racing at the front and trying to win races at the very least than just riding around.
"I am not bothered about going round the world just for the sake of rocking up and getting a 12th or 15th every weekend. That doesn’t interest me at all and that’s the reason why I stayed in BSB with Paul this year.
"I knew the PBM chassis was going to be good and it will only get better because the guys behind it are incredibly intelligent. Should Paul go down the road of banging a Yamaha engine in it then there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a really good bike.”
Byrne said the deciding factor behind a possible MotoGP return would be the competitiveness of the machinery and he said: “I guess Paul is in discussion with a few people about next season and nobody knows what he is thinking.
"If Paul rocks up with two of the production Hondas or something similar that gives you a chance to be more competitive, then obviously that is a bit of a game changer.
"For the time being we have got a lot of work to do in BSB. I desperately want to win some more races and the title. Should it be that Paul says he wants me to ride for him next year but we are not sure if it will be in BSB then we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
"Paul knows me well enough to know that I won’t be interested unless I can be competitive and by that I mean being the best of the non-factory bikes or mixing it with some of the factory bikes. Like I said it is much better for me to be at the front of one championship than the back of another.
"It depends on what Paul wants because ultimately he is the boss. Knowing Paul as well as I do he won’t even speak to me about it until he is aware of what is going on. Until he has signed something off he won’t even bother asking or wasting his breath talking about it.”