British Superbikes: Christmas series part one: Shane Byrne speaks about new Airwaves Ducati team

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This is the first in a series of five interviews with British Superbike’s top riders giving their thoughts on their new teams.

Never before has there been so much movement on the British Superbike rider market during the off-season as we’ve since this winter.  

Even the top five seats in British Superbikes have new riders sitting on them next year.

They’ve all been acquainted with their new teams so what better time to get their thoughts on their moves.

In part one, Airwaves Ducati’s Shane Byrne gives us his views.

2007: Stobart Honda
2008: Airwaves Ducati

First impressions of your new team?

“Yeah I’m pretty impressed. I popped into the workshop a couple of weeks ago to meet the boys and got the shock of my life. From the outside it looks like a pokey little place on a horrible little industrial estate and you open the door and there’s this fantastic workshop with a separate engine building room, dyno room and enough space to park a couple of articulated trucks in!

“My new crew chief Luca wasn’t there but I met the rest of the boys and they seem a great bunch. I’m going to enjoy working with them.

“I actually got to know a couple of them when I had the test ride on Darrell Healey’s Ducati back in 1998 (when Healey was running the team under the GSE racing banner rather than with a title sponsor – Editor).

“I said to the boys, ‘it’s only taken me nine years to get a ride with the team!’”

Most exciting thing about your new team?

“Getting a factory Ducati to play with again, I guess. I did okay on one in 2003 (he dominated British Superbikes on his way to the title with the 998 F02 in MonsterMob colours and won both World Superbike races at Brands Hatch as a wild card – Editor) and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new 1098R.

“It’s also being part of GSE Racing. As a team they’ve got a pretty good record, they’ve done all right over the years haven’t they?

“Seriously, they are very professional outfit. When we met last week we talked through the plan and it all sounds good to me.”

What will you miss most your old team?

“The boys in the garage. They were absolutely megga and it wasn’t the nicest thing I’ve had to do, picking the phone up to each of them to tell them I was going to be moving on.

“I’ll miss them but then again, I’m looking forward to working with my new boys.

And Birdy (Paul Bird, Stobart Honda team owner)?

“I was a little bit disappointed with his outburst in certain sections of the media (Bird slated both Shakey and Tom Sykes for walking out on the team) – but I know how easy it is for quotes to be taken out of context.

“I was as straight as I could be over the whole thing about leaving his team. I didn’t feel like I’d done anything wrong. One day I hope we can sit down, talk it over and still be mates.  

How will British Superbikes shape up without Ryuichi Kiyonari?

“A bit easier I hope (he says laughing). Seriously, Kiyo was a good kid, a really funny guy.

“I wasn’t the closest person to him, I know, but I just found him to be a really likeable guy.

“I can’t help but think he knew a lot more English than he let on but he pretended he knew nothing and the longer he played that game, the funnier it got.

“He was very fast too, but in this sport as soon as one rider moves on, another comes along. I’m not bothered really about who’s out there because I’ll just be concentrating on the job I have to do.”

Check back tomorrow as speaks to Cal Crutchlow

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin