Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki pairing Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton go into the opening round of the 2012 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch this Easter weekend hoping to turn around their 2011 fortunes now they are both reunited with the team that brought them British Championship success in the past.
Twice a British Superbike champion, Shakey is back for a third term with Paul Bird's team and is one of the title favourites from the start. The Londoner led the MCE BSB series for much of 2011 before just missing out on the title although he did win six races including a double at the final round. Byrne won the 2003 British title for the Cumbrian-based team as well as taking a double World Superbike win the same year aboard Ducati machinery.
Scotsman Easton, who won the 2002 British Supersport Championship with the PBM team, is continuing to make remarkable progress following life-threatening injuries sustained in a racing accident last May. The Hawick rider is just about back to full fitness and is hoping to mount a challenge for the title, and knows the Showdown points scoring system will favour him as he gets stronger as the season progresses.
The Paul Bird Motorsport Team is returning to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship for the first time since 2007, having spent four years in World Superbikes including winning in Germany last season with British rider Tom Sykes.
In addition to the team's BSB commitments, PBM (UK) are fielding James Ellison in the MotoGP World Championship aboard a CRT-specification Aprilia and reigning Metzeler National Superstock 600 champion, Keith Farmer from Clogher in Northern Ireland, on a Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 championship this season.
Shane Byrne: "I won my first race at Brands Hatch and it holds a lot of good memories for me so I intend to start where I left off last year and that's by winning. It's great to be back with Birdy and the boys and the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10R should be very competitive. We have made good progress in the tests so now it's time to get down to the proper action over Easter."
Stuart Easton: "Every time I've sat on the bike in testing, we have made progress and although it's been hard work since my accident, I'm now bike fit, I just have to get race fit and where better place to do that than at Brands Hatch this weekend. The team have kept their promise of providing me with a bike when I was in hospital and here we are but I'll admit to being a little nervous."
Keith Farmer: "This is a massive opportunity for me and I can't thank Paul and the team enough so I hope to repay them with a strong performance this year. Working with the likes of Shakey and Stuart will only be beneficial and I'm really looking forward to the season ahead."
Paul Bird: "The boys have worked hard over winter in getting the bikes ready and we are ready to go. We are all here for one reason and that's to win the title so hopefully we can make a good start at Brands Hatch this weekend. I'm counting on Shakey and Stuart, as well as Keith on the Superstocker, to make a lasting impression from the start. More importantly, mine and the team's thoughts are with Joan Lascorz who was seriously injured at Imola on Monday, our prayers are with him right now."