Shane Byrne Back to British Superbike Championship
Two-time British Superbike Champion Shane “Shakey” Byrne will return to the BSB Championship to team with current champion Ryuichi Kiyonari on the all-champion HM Plant Honda team for 2011.Byrne spent this season riding the Althea Racing Ducati to a tenth overall finish in the World Superbike Championship. Byrne’s best weekend was in Portimao, Portugal, when he qualified seventh and finished sixth and seventh in the two races. Byrne also finished 6-7 at Miller Motorsports Park after qualifying 11th. Byrne replaces BSB runner-up Josh Brookes, the Australian who claimed five wins and 13 podiums. Brookes is moving to the Relentless by TAS Suzuki team for next year’s championship.Kiyonari tied the record of three BSB titles set by Scotsman Niall Mackenzie when he clinched this year’s title in the final round at Oulton Park. Byrne last raced in BSB in 2008 when he won the second of his two number one plates.”It is great to be coming back to BSB,” Byrne said. “I saw Kiyo (Kiyonari) win the title this season and until then Niall Mackenzie had always been the leading rider in terms of championship wins; he had three to mine and Kiyo’s two. Now Kiyo has three too, one more than me, and I definitely want to equal the score. Every rider will tell you there is a rule in racing and that it to beat your teammate and mine is the reigning champion so that’s giving me real motivation! I am coming back to BSB to win races, score podiums and fight for the championship.”It’s all very exciting and I am not coming back thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park. The competition in BSB is always high and you can see that from this season and how close it was right until the end. I am thinking of the long game; I don’t want to win just one title, I want two as there is nothing more I want than to become the most successful rider in BSB history in terms of championship wins. I want to win the title again and then come back with a number one plate to defend.”Added Kiyonari, “I wanted to come back to try and keep the number one. This was a tough season; the races were hard so I was really happy to win again at the final round. I now want to win again, as nobody has won the championship four times. There is new competition for next season, like Shakey (Byrne) coming back and riders changing teams, so it is another new challenge. It is important to me to win again and I know that with HM Plant Honda we can fight for it.”The 12-round 2011 BSB season kicks off on the April 23-25 weekend at Brands Hatch outside of London.