Triple BSB Champion Shane Byrne talks to PaddockChatter

No doubt we’ll see this more than once in 2013

Last year Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne lifted his third British Superbike crown and with it firmly cemented himself into the record books as the one of the most successful riders in championship history and joining the exclusive club of three-time champions alongside Niall Mckenzie and Ryuichi Kiyonari.

The blue-eyed fans favourite begins the defence of his crown this weekend at his home circuit of Brands Hatch in Kent in what will surely be his most difficult title defence yet. Not only will ‘Shakey’ have to renew his battles with the main protagonists from last year in fast Aussie Josh Brookes and the rapidly developing Alex Lowes but he’ll also have to contend with the returning James Ellison and fellow triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari as he seeks the record number of wins and the undisputed fourth British Superbike title.

We caught up with Shane as he relaxed at his home in Northern Spain ahead of what could be his most satisfying, but intense, seasons yet.

Last season you lifted your third BSB crown, where does that one rank amongst the other two titles?

Without meaning to sound unhappy or ungrateful it doesn’t stand anywhere near as tall as the other two, your first title is always going to be special, backing it up with another proves it wasn’t a fluke, my 3rd, well, if I’m honest, I was pretty much over it by the time I got to the back straight at Brands as it meant all I’d done was equal Kiyo and Niall Mac.

How good was it to secure a second title for PBM?

I think Paul employed me because he knows I’ll always give 110% and that’s massively important, they give me 110% in return so what more could I ask for? Paul’s been a big part of my career success so far and hopefully there’s plenty of success still to come, so it was cool to give him another championship!!!  

The season began slower than you’d hoped in 2012, as you said ‘dicking around in 6th place’ wasn’t what you wanted. At what point did you think ‘game on’?

Byrne on his way to title number three at Brands Hatch

Yes, you’re right, Brands Hatch Roud One didn’t go to plan at all, however it was only a small hiccup as we knew from testing we’d be fast, so in my eyes there was never any doubt at all. There was however the matter of rules being modified for certain teams, one of which wasn’t ours, which in the beginning was pretty frustrating…

In 2011 you were a victim of the Showdown rules, but in 2012 it worked in your favour after your injuries at Cadwell Park kept you out of that meeting and Donington too. What are your thoughts on the Showdown after seeing both sides of the coin?

Give me the chance to change one thing about BSB and it would be to turn it into a NORMAL CONVENTIONAL championship. My views have calmed slightly after last year and I guess you just have to roll with it. I get it, obviously I do, I understand the whole excitement thing but let me tell you, those last three rounds are mental torture!

We think 2013 could see the hardest fought championship in recent years, there are potentially 10 riders capable of reaching the Showdown. Would you agree with that and have you prepared any differently this year to previous years?

2013 wil be tough for sure, every year is for it’s own reasons, last year was like a jump into the unknown with the control ecu etc so in some ways it was maybe tougher, the great thing is I have continuity in my team and bike going forward, I know our strengths and our weaknesses and we’ve addressed both, a few less little mistakes this year and hopefully we’ll be in good shape.

Outside of the main contenders of Kiyo, Alex, Josh and James, who do you think could spring a surprise this year?

I don’t like to “think” too much about any of the other riders, sure there’ll be a couple of surprises along the way, some dodgy conditions that maybe someone is prepared to lay it all on the line for but, as I’ve said, who they’ll be only time will tell and in the meantime I’ll concentrate on me and doing my job right.

Your team-mate for this year, Keith Farmer, is only in his third year of road racing, an incredible achievement. How highly do you rate him?

Saluting the crowd…job done 2012

Keith is obviously a very talented lad, he comes from a motocross/supermotard background and spent his younger years racing and beating some of Irelands best riders, it’s no surprise he’s fast, he just needs to keep learning now and find his way on a Superbike. Hopefully it’ll take slightly longer than his other 2 championships! *laughs*

How reassuring is it for you to have the consistency of remaining with the same team for a second season, could that be vital in your efforts to retain the title this year?

In all honesty PBM just works for me as I said earlier, I have no doubt whatsoever that riding for any of the decent teams I’d win races and fight for the title, but i’m happy where I am and I consider PBM “My Team”. Obviously I don’t mean my team as in I own it though… in fact, if I win it this year I might even ask Paul to change the team name to SBM as in Shakey Byrne Motorsport!

What is the long-term plan for Shakey Byrne? Do you look at WSB and think ‘I can do a job there’ or is it BSB until you decide its family time?

I don’t really have too much of a long term plan, life isn’t some kind of dress rehearsal so you’ve got to crack on and live it. I truly believe that if you use too much time thinking about what your long term plans are you’re not keeping your eye on the game that’s unfolding right in front of your eyes. It’s fair to say there’s unfinished business abroad, lets be realistic, pretty much all of the British guys in WSB and even Cal in Moto GP, the last time we all raced together in the UK it was me that was Champion, I don’t look at any of them and think wow, i just think equal opportunity machinery I could still get the job done but that said I do really enjoy BSB and life for me HAS to be fun.

Do you have any ambition to remain in racing when the time comes to hang the leathers up? You’ve a mass of knowledge and experience to pass on.

I’d definitely like to remain in racing someway or another when I eventually hang up my leathers, that’s as it stands right now though, at 36, looking at for instance Biaggi, Checa and Bayliss those guys were winning World titles in their 40’s, so like I said earlier let’s concentrate on the job in hand for now and the rest will unfold in time.

In a little twist on the regular Q&A format PaddockChatter decided to throw in a couple of quick-fire questions to make the most of out time with Shakey as an alternate to the more in-depth questions of before…

Will we see this smile come October?

Favourite Race?
Any I win. Easy question.

Favourite Circuit?
I’d ride around an ASDA car park and be happy to be honest, I just love riding motorbikes!!! Brno, Brands GP and Phillip Island otherwise.

Best Race Bike Ridden?
Tough Tough question that, maybe my F03 Monster Mob Ducati or the Camel Honda

Favourite Food?
Any my wife cooks!!!! Salads, Pasta, I’m pretty fussy, but she has me nailed.

Best Holiday Destination?
We have a house in Northern Spain, we love it here, in fact I’m sat answering your questions here but I want to take my family to California at some point, I absolutely love it there!

Massive thanks to Shane for giving up some of his valuable time in the run up to the season and big thanks to his lovely wife Petra for making it all possible. As with all our interviewees PaddockChatter would like to wish Shakey all the best for the coming season as he chases that record breaking fourth crown.


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