Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 03 Apr 2015
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is the most successful British Superbike rider of all time after storming to a fourth title last year.
However the PBM Kawasaki rider isn’t resting on his laurels heading ahead of the opening round of the 2015 season at Donington Park this weekend.
“The reality is nobody could ever put any more pressure on me than I put on myself,” said Byrne speaking to Bike Social. “Obviously every season we’re out there trying to win a championship and to try and win more races and increase the buffer if you like. I know that I’m working harder than I ever have and I know that the team are working far harder than they ever have, we’re all having a massive push to try and defend our title and to hopefully win another one.”
Byrne’s pre-season preparations were slightly hampered when he crashed during a test at Almeria in Spain at the beginning of last month suffering a broken hand. He underwent surgery the night of the crash in Spain and returned to the UK immediately to begin rehabilitation. Determined to get back on his bike, Byrne rode just three weeks later at the official Donington Park test and set the fastest time.
“I had only done about 30 laps of Almeria and then I chucked myself at the scenery and couldn’t ride until the Donington test,” Byrne continued. “It was really important for me to get a feel for how I was and also to try some of the stuff the team have been working on over the winter to try and improve the bike. I didn’t feel a million miles away and then we were chipping away and introducing new parts and it gave us a bit of direction for the race weekend.”
Japan’s Ryuichi Kiyonari put up a strong fight against Byrne last year only to fall at the final hurdle, suffering a broken collarbone in a free practice crash during the final round at Brands Hatch. However Byrne refuses to draw on who may be his biggest rivals this year…
“You never know who will be up there. To be honest I answer this question exactly the same way every single year, all I’m going do is concentrate on me and my bike, if I concentrate on me and my bike come Sunday afternoon we’ll be there or there abouts. If I worry about what the new Yamaha’s going do or whether Laverty’s going to be fast on the BMW or if Kiyo’s going to be quick on the new one, I’m not concentrating on what I should be doing which is making myself and my bike better. It’s easy to go down the line and say ‘oh obviously Kiyo is going to be the main contender and such and such is going to be second or whatever’ but there’s no point because every year it tends to pan out quite similar and my focus is the same each year, it’s me and my machine, we’ll see how we get on.
For 2015, BMW have bought out a new S 1000 RR and Yamaha have brought in a radically revised YZF-R1. Kawasaki on the other hand, are running with the same ZX10-R Byrne has ridden for the last four seasons. However, he doesn’t think this will be a disadvantage as the Paul Bird Motorsport team have worked hard on development over the winter months.
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“It [the bike] has the potential to be very different, the team have worked really hard this winter. Fair play to Paul Bird, he’s won the championship two out three years but is far from resting on his laurels, he wants to win now more than ever so the boys have been working incredibly hard back at base and some of the stuff that they’ve done when you think that the rules are still the same and you can only work within those rules, the stuff they’ve turned out for 2015 is incredible.”
At (approximately) 38 years old, Byrne is one of the older riders on the grid, which often gives rise to questions about his retirement. Why should someone who keeps winning retire? You don’t see these questions directed at Valetnino Rossi, do you Shakey?
“I think I’m working harder now to achieve the results that I’ve achieved than I ever have, you’re constantly gaining knowledge and gaining information and you sit there and think I’ve been on that bike for four years and I’ve learnt stuff about it this winter that we didn’t know! Everyone thinks ‘oh yeah he’s on the same bike, others have got new rides’ but you never ever stop learning and all the time I’m enjoying myself and wake up in the morning and want to go out and race a motorbike, there’s absolutely no chance I’m retiring,
“I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t have been the perfect scenario to get a factory world superbike ride and go and try and win some world superbike races but at the same time if that’s not possible on the right package I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s better to stay here in BSB and win every weekend or to try and win every weekend and ultimately fight for more championships and I’m really, really happy at the moment.”