Author: Oli Rushby Pic: Impact Images Posted: 07 Mar 2016
As British Superbike star Shane Byrne sat on a plane en route to Cartagena to ride his Ducati Panigale R on track with fellow BSB riders for the first time, he was quietly confident he’d be able to match if not better his rivals’ times.
The new-look BeWiser PBM team had carried out a successful test at Portimao in January and the four-time champion felt good on his new steed first time out.
However, as he rolled down pit-lane at the Cartagena circuit in southern Spain there was a shock in store.
Byrne found his 1199cc v-twin Ducati to be almost unrideable at the slippy Spanish track, saying it was like having 6000 bhp and a wet tyre in the rear.
The result left him far from happy, 12th fastest and over 1.5 seconds off the pace set by Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey.
"I think that it would be really, really easy to sit here and be a little bit down about the way the test went in general but I think in maybe two or three weeks’ time, or when the season starts, we won't look back at this test and think 'oh my God, what on earth happened there? We will look back and think 'flipping hell, how lucky were we that it happened there' as this test has taught us a lot about the bike,” said Byrne after testing.
"Cartagena is a really low grip circuit where you spend all your time on the side of the tyre and after the fantastic test that we had in Portugal, I came here absolutely brimming with confidence. In my own mind I was convinced that the Ducati was going to be phenomenal around here. I thought it would be absolutely perfect. I thought we would be able to get out after already having a test, and get straight up to speed and be pretty much in the ball park from the word go.
"But I think after the first couple of exits we got the biggest kind of shock I think I have ever got out of a race bike you know. It has felt the whole time we have been here like it has six thousand horse power and like a wet tyre in the rear; it has been particularly difficult to ride, to manage, to control to a certain degree and that was a massive surprise. That said, it made us look at where we were in Portugal, look at the way the bike worked in Portugal, bearing in mind how fast we were in Portugal, and revisit some stuff and go in a much better direction than perhaps we would have done if we had not come here.”
Despite the unexpected issues, Byrne is taking a pragmatic approach and is fully aware that a fast lap in testing does not equate to race winning success.
"I honestly think that give it a round or two, we will be so, so grateful that we came here and go this sort of surprise. It is hard to say that I am happy to be not as fast as guys that we can beat week in, week out, I am not going to lie. I would’ve loved to have been fastest, but at the same time we have seen that in years previous it doesn't matter how fast you are around Cartagena for one lap, unless you can do however many laps it is at Silverstone in the race and maintain a fast pace, you are not going to be anywhere. In Portugal we had about a drop off of about half a second a lap from the minute we used a tyre until the minute that the tyre was over race distance and numbers like that, and the information that we learnt at this test, means much more to me than a lap time at Cartagena circuit."
Byrne and the PBM team will now test for three more days’ in Spain before heading back to the UK for the two official tests at Silverstone and Donington Park later this month, ahead of the first round of the 2016 championship taking place at Silverstone between 8-10 April.