November, 28 2012
Alpinestars caught up with MCE Insurance British Superbike Champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne as the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider announces his intention to compete for a record-breaking fourth BSB title next season.
Congratulations on your decision to compete in BSB again next year, why stay on another season?
I was in the enviable position of being offered a ride in either MotoGP or BSB and, after some careful consideration, staying with my championship-winning team on a great bike in BSB was too strong a temptation to resist.
Fantastic 2012 to win your third BSB title. Missing two races due to injury, things looked doubtful going into Assen – did you ever think it was over for you?
I couldn’t have done any more to be fit for Assen. My surgeon wasn’t overly happy: he wanted me to have six to eight weeks off but I came back after just three. But when you have gone three-quarters of the way through a championship you don’t want to give up. I practically camped out at my physio’s house because I was spending so much time trying to get my strength back.
If I’d turned up at Assen and came 15th I would have been happy because I would have known that I could not have done anymore to get fit. I couldn’t even lift my arm over my head, but after winning the first race and coming second in the second race, I thought: “Hold on, we can still do this!”
You then had a pretty challenging Silverstone, but you came away from there back at the top of the standings. How were you feeling at that point?
Now I had a first and three seconds out of four races, four weeks after major shoulder surgery so there was not too much to be down about. This is a tough, tough job. We can’t sit on the sidelines for six months like they do in football and say that our toenail hurts. In motorcycle racing if you are not on your bike somebody else will want to jump on it. It’s a pretty ruthless sport in that respect.
Going into the season finale at Brands Hatch you needed a solid start, which you duly delivered with two first places in the opening races.
Usually I am elated when I win a race. That’s what I live for: to win races. I love winning; it spurs you on to greater things and better performances. But after that first win on Saturday at Brands I felt that I couldn’t celebrate because while I’d won a battle the war still wasn’t won. It was the same in the second race on Sunday morning. I crossed the line and should have been happy because I’d won another race but it was exactly the same feeling. Now we were even closer to winning the title! So when I won the final race, the three race wins hit me: I was absolutely ecstatic and all the emotions hit me at once.
... so you had now equaled the BSB record of three championships, what were you thinking at that moment?
By the time I got to the back straight on my slowdown lap I was already thinking: “That’s another title done, but all I’ve done now is equal the record!” So I had all the elation of winning all three races but with the disappointment of only having done something that others have already done. I thought: “Oh no, I need to come back and fight for a fourth or fifth title as this would make me really special!”
What are your thoughts going into the new season?
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. Paul Bird Motorsports is my team: it is the second time I’ve won a title with them. We know what makes each other tick. The one remaining decision I have to make is whether I run with my traditional number 67 or use the No.1 plate. You'll have to wait and see!
One question I ask all our athletes is what piece of Alpinestars kit could you not do without?
I never, ever want to be in a position where I have to race without wearing all of my Alpinestars’ gear. The level of support, the quality of the product ... I wouldn’t want to be without it for all the money in the world. It’s difficult to single out one product because with Alpinestars it about the complete package.
You put on your Alpinestars socks because they fit perfectly underneath your Alpinestars under-layers, then on top of your under-layers your back protector fits perfectly inside the suit that has been custom made for you. For me it is a ritual, a process I must go through every time I get on my motorcycle:
Alpinestars is how I have to do things. I dress exactly the same way every time I go out on my bike, to the point I lay my leathers on the floor in a ritual-like way. Alpinestars is my package and that’s how I go racing.