Four-time MCE British Superbike champion Shane Byrne and rookie teammate Glenn Irwin have gotten their 2016 season underway at Portugal’s Portimao circuit, joining factory Ducati World Superbike riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano for a two-day test.
The test marks Byrne’s first outing on a BSB-spec Panigale R machine, after a brief outing on a hybrid bike following the final round of 2015.
Speaking before the test, which will be followed by a further two days at Almeria on Monday and Tuesday, the Kent rider spoke of his relief at finally turning wheels again after a long winter break.
“When you win a title, it always seems like the winter afterwards flies in, and when you lose one the winter tends to drag. Well, this has been the longest winter of my life!
"It almost sounds corny saying you can't wait for testing and the new season as that is what we all say at this time of the year, but for me as Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and for the team, Be Wiser and everyone else involved, this is the most excited I have been looking ahead to a season in a long time! It is like a completely new start with Ducati and the new crew I have, but we still have the foundations of the team that together have won championships.
"This week I drove for five hours to the team workshop just to go and deliver my kit bag and sit on the new girl before we go testing at the end of the week and I think that shows my enthusiasm already! I even got involved with the dyno work before the bikes were loaded to leave because I just wanted to get on it and get a feel for it on the dyno, which isn't something I have done before, but it felt so cool!
"It is obviously early days but the team have done a fantastic job so far and I am so keen and curious to see what she is like on track in BSB spec compared to the previous Ducatis that I have ridden. We can then start working on making the package the best we can during testing so we are ready for the first round.”