The Penrith-based Paul Bird Motorsport team had a tough weekend at Cadwell Park this weekend in round eight of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship as sole rider Shane 'Shakey' Byrne had to make do with a fourth and a sixth place finish.
Aboard the PBM Kawasaki ZX-10R, the reigning and four-time champion was able to salvage two results after a difficult start to the race weekend at the iconic Lincolnshire track, and says he now wants to move on and look ahead to the next round of the series.
Byrne was the only rider in action for the squad this weekend as Stuart Easton continues to recover from his Brands Hatch crash last month, and the Londoner was hoping the annual trip to Cadwell Park would bring better fortune than his last outing at Thruxton.
But the weekend got off to a bad start as he struggled during free practice, ending the opening day tenth fastest and more than a second adrift of his nearest rival. The team worked hard overnight and came back fighting for qualifying yesterday whereby Byrne had to settle for a fourth row grid spot in 11th position for the first race.
The opening MCE BSB race turned out to be a rather sedate affair for the reigning champion. Despite picking up three places at the start, he sat in eighth for the first eight laps before moving to seventh and then, on the final lap, he made a move to grab sixth.
For race two, Shakey lined up in sixth and got himself another good start as he moved up to fourth. Despite dropping to fifth soon after, he kept a steady head, catching and passing the rider in front on the 12th lap to retake fourth, a spot he held comfortably all the way to the flag.
Despite not adding to his Podium Points tally, Byrne has comfortably qualified for the end of season 'Showdown' whereby he is hoping to be joined by Stuart Easton upon his return at the next round.
Shane Byrne: "It's really difficult to be positive if I look just at my results but at the same time if I look back to where I was on Friday when I just wanted to go home because I wasn't feeling it at all, then I have to think that we have made some decent steps forward. The team worked so hard for me this weekend to try and find the solutions but we still aren't where we should be. If I'm trying to quantify how happy I am on results then obviously I'm not very happy at all, but I feel generally that the progress we've made over the course of the weekend has been good and I'm pretty pleased with that. Obviously I don't go racing for fourth and sixth places and neither does the PBM team, and right now we need a bike that can win again. I've been training hard since the last round and I know I've worked my nuts off so we need to all go back and look at what we can do to come back at Oulton Park at our best."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It's been another difficult weekend where we haven't been able to give Shakey a bike he feels comfortable and confident with. We made some changes on Friday and Saturday and eventually he did get some improvement but it's still a long way off where any of us want to be. Obviously we're all disappointed not to score any podium credits this weekend, but we're now going to assess the bike and we think maybe there is a problem with the chassis. We will investigate this further and get it sorted out ahead of Oulton Park. We know Shakey goes well around there and we want to be fit and ready to fight back when we get there."
MCE British Superbike Championship - Race One (18 Laps)1 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)2 Peter Hickman (BMW)3 Billy McConnell (BMW)4 Tommy Bridewell (BMW)5 Michael Laverty (BMW)6 Shane Byrne (Kawasaki)
MCE British Superbike Championship - Race Two (18 Laps)1 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)2 Peter Hickman (BMW)3 Tommy Bridewell (BMW)4 Shane Byrne (Kawasaki)5 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki)6 Billy McConnell (BMW)
Championship standings (after eight rounds)1 Josh Brookes 316 points2 Shane Byrne 2773 James Ellison 1474 Tommy Bridewell 1415 Stuart Easton 1396 Michael Laverty 126