Paul Bird has confirmed he is talking with Scott Redding about a potential move to the Bennetts British Superbike championship next year.
Redding has found himself with limited options after being dumped by Aprilia’s MotoGP team for the 2019 season in favour of Andrea Iannone and is understood to be considering a number of options, including a potential move to World Superbikes, a testing role with Aprilia and the offer from Bird to race in BSB.
While he admits the prospect of Redding coming to join the PBM team, which is the most successful in the history of the British Championship, excites him, Bird refuses to rule out the possibility of keeping Andrew Irwin on board alongside brother Glenn who signed to remain with the team for 2019 last month.
The younger Irwin brother has impressed since making his debut with the Penrith team at Snetterton, deputising for injured six-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
“Time is on my side, we’ve got our number one rider boxed off so there’s no rush,” Bird told MCN at Thruxton.
“There is plenty of truth in the rumours that we are talking to Scott Redding, I’m not going to hide that, but whether Scott wants to take a step back to take two steps forward I’m not sure.
“Andrew Irwin has been filling big boots this year and he’s done a very good job so far. He’s got the rest of the year to prove to me that he’s the man for the bike for next year but it’s looking pretty promising for him at the minute. I’m impressed with his mentality and approach; the ride is there for the taking and he could be the right man for the job.
“It’s up to me and at the minute we’ve plenty of time to sit back and see. The idea of possibly having Scott Redding in the team excites me, but Andrew also excites me so I’ll keep my cards close to my chest. We’re a team that has won six championships so we need to be at the forefront every year.”
It is not known at this point whether Byrne, who badly broke his neck and back in a testing crash at Snetterton, will be able to return to racing. If that is possible before the end of the season, Bird says he’ll put a bike out for the reigning champion but remained tight-lipped about the possibility of Byrne being with the team in 2019.
“I’m not too sure, we just don’t know,” he said. “He’s 42 in January and he’s got to think about his health. It’s a big risk for him to come back so we’ll have to see what happens and take it week by week. If he can ride a bike by the end of the year we will make one available for him.”