High profile British racing boss Paul Bird has ended weeks of speculation about his future by revealing he will run two-rider efforts in MotoGP and British Superbikes in 2014.
The PBM squad will continue to run Irishman Michael Laverty in MotoGP and he will be joined by former World Supersport runner-up Broc Parkes.
Aussie Parkes raced a Kawasaki for PBM in World Superbikes back in 2009, while Laverty is preparing for his second season in the premier class with Bird’s British-based project.
A team statement, which also confirms Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton for Bird’s BSB team, said Laverty and Parkes will be riding PBM Aprilia machinery, which hints that the squad will continue to run its own frame using a RSV-4 based motor.
Laverty has been waiting on his future for several weeks now but Bird always vowed to find him a ride if he decided to quit MotoGP. Laverty was only testing a ZX-10R in Spain earlier this week with Byrne and Easton, with the prospect of a three-man BSB squad an option if Bird withdrew from MotoGP.
But Laverty, who finished with a best result of 13th in his rookie premier class campaign, said: “We learned so much in year one that I’m delighted Paul has continued his involvement with MotoGP and that he’s given me the opportunity to continue with the project. Everyone has told me that year two is much easier so the aim is to put into place what we have learned and to raise our game accordingly. The class is going to be a lot tougher with the new production bikes but our aim is to consistently score points.”
Parkes said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a massive thanks to Paul Bird for the opportunity to work with his team once again; I’m really looking forward to it. This is the premier class and it’s every rider’s dream to race in MotoGP. I know this is going to be a tough season but I’m certainly up for the challenge, I can’t wait to get started.”
As expected, Bird confirmed that his Rapid Solicitors-backed BSB effort will feature vastly experienced Byrne and Easton.
Byrne missed out of the chance to capture a record fourth title in 2013 when he was defeated by Alex Lowes in a nail-biting final round decider at Brands Hatch and he said: “Paul and I agreed a deal ages back and I’m made up I’ll be racing for the PBM Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team once again in 2014. We came so close to defending our title that it makes us even more determined to win it back this season and I know I’ve got the most competitive package to do that. We had a successful test in Spain earlier this week so I’m feeling confident already.”
Easton is also no stranger to the PBM set-up having raced for Bird in 2012 and the current British Supersport champion said: ““I’m pleased to be back in British Superbikes and especially riding for PBM on the Kawasaki. It was brilliant to win the British Supersport title last year as it got me fit and back to form so now I feel I’m ready to step up to BSB again which is where I want to be. My first run out on the bike in Spain was very positive and I was on the pace so can’t wait for another outing in preparation for the season ahead.”
Bird said he was thrilled to finally confirm he will remain racing on two fronts in 2014 and the multi-millionaire businessman added: “It’s taken a little while but I’ve got the four riders I wanted in the two championships I wanted to race in. We’ve done a lot of spade work in MotoGP over the past two seasons so the plan is to build on that and work with our partners and Michael and Broc are very capable of delivering. As for BSB, it really hurt us losing our crown to Honda of all people so Shakey’s back to try and reclaim it and Stuart needed a year away from BSB and is now back in the big time with us. We have some wonderful and loyal sponsors with Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence specialists Rapid Solicitors and Fuchs Silkolene on board again and also, we’d like to welcome MAC Tools too. There’s still some business to sort which will be of very big interest when we announce it so watch this space!”