Triple British Superbike champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne and double National Superstock champion Keith Farmer will contest the 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship for Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki.
35-year-old Londoner Byrne will defend the title he won this season to add to his 2003 and 2008 successes and he will be joined in the Penrith-based Paul Bird Motorsport team by 24-year-old Ulsterman Keith Farmer who was also victorious in 2012 when he added the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 title to that of his 600 success the year previous.
Both riders will contest the 12 round series on the successful Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10Rs which saw Byrne claim eight victories en route to the title with backing once again from Humberside based Rapid Solicitors.
It will be the first time that Byrne, who now lives on the Isle of Sheppey, will defend his UK number one plate as on the previous two occasions, he has moved onto MotoGP and World Superbikes respectively.
As for Farmer, the ‘Clogher Bullet’ from County Tyrone had a one-off ride on the injured Stuart Easton’s machine at Oulton Park in mid-season where he impressed during qualifying before claiming a top twenty result on his first ever outing on a Superbike.
In addition to the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team in BSB, PBM UK will once again be contesting the MotoGP World Championship where they will be running a two-man team with one rider aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART machine and the second rider aboard a PBM machine, details of which will be announced shortly, as well as a testing programme.
The PBM team returned to BSB this year after three successful years in World Superbikes and the two titles they won added to the 1999 250cc British Championship of John McGuinness and the 2002 successes of Steve Hislop in BSB and Stuart Easton in British Supersport. The team also assisted Farmer to his 2011 National Superstock 600 title to take their tally to six domestic titles to add to their considerable successes at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200, Macau Grand Prix and Daytona.
Byrne needs only two more victories to equal Ryuichi Kiyonari’s record of 43 career wins and a fourth BSB title would better the three achieved by both Kiyonari and Niall Mackenzie.
Shane Byrne: “I was in the enviable position of being offered a ride in either MotoGP or BSB by Paul Bird and after some careful consideration; I thought that the option of staying with my championship winning team on a great bike in BSB was too strong a temptation to resist. We are within sight of some records and so for the first time ever in my career, I am riding for the same team again but it wasn’t really a difficult decision to make. We are going into 2013 even stronger and with a few improvements to the bike as well as me training harder than ever, I’m hoping I can defend the title but it won’t be easy. The one remaining decision I have to make is whether I run with my traditional number 67 or I use the number one plate, you’ll have to wait and see!”
Keith Farmer: “I don’t know how to put into words how happy I am to be riding for the Paul Bird Motorsport Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team on a Superbike next year. I thought last year was a big year for me but it keeps getting bigger and better. I am also very pleased that Shakey is my team mate as he helped me a lot this year. I can’t thank Paul and the rest of the team enough, he said from the end of last season that he would look after me and yet again he has stuck to his word and put me on Superbike. All I can do to show him my appreciation is to get up front with the reigning British Superbike Champion Shakey, as that’s how we roll!”
Paul Bird: “I’m delighted that we are back in BSB and that Shakey and Keith will be riding for us. We came back to Britain for one thing only and that was for us to win the title and now we aim to defend it as we’ve never had a rider do that. Shakey proved he was the dominant force last season and there’s no reason why he can’t do it again. Keith is a very talented rider who we aim to develop in forthcoming seasons and it’s great that him and Shakey get on really well as he can learn a lot. We are also committed to MotoGP and will be making an important announcement soon on our plans in that series and rest assured, I’ll be even more focused on both my teams’ successes than ever before.”
More information can be found at www.pbmuk.net. The official website of the 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship is at www.britishsuperbike.com. Paul Bird is now on Facebook and Twitter (@paulbirdpbm).