By Christian Tiburtius
Shane Byrne won a record-equalling third BSB title in 2012 and is to remain with Paul Bird's Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team in a bid to become the most successful rider in the Championship's history.
Byrne needs only two more race victories to equal Ryuichi Kiyonari's record of 43 wins while no rider has ever won a fourth BSB title. Byrne is presently tied with fellow triple winners Kiyonari and Niall Mackenzie.
'Shakey' took time out from his busy preparation schedule to talk to Crash.net
about his racing career and look ahead to the 2013 season...
When you started out, you were a bike tester for a magazine?
Yeah, but I'd started racing before doing the bike testing. I used to work on the London Underground and had got banned from driving for dangerous driving so I bought a race bike to go racing instead. After a season or so, I got involved in the Fast Bikes magazine and did testing for them for a couple of years.
So racing was always part of a plan?
100% yes, as corny as it sounds, right back to primary school, I've never wanted to be anything other than a motorbike racer, which is strange because neither of my parents even had a driving licence.
My mum knew that there wasn't a lot of point telling me it was too dangerous etc because she could tell that's what I loved doing and just kind of rolled with it. She never watches races until after when she knows everything's all right. She usually records them.
Looking back at the all bikes you've ridden, which stand out as your favourites?
It's a difficult thing to answer because just give me a motorbike to ride, let me go and play and I'm happy. But the Monstermob Ducati and my first ZXR400 stand out as being a great springboard to other things. One thing always leads to another.
When you're setting up a bike, which aspects do you particularly look at?
There's not any particular aspect. You're really just looking to maximise the package you've got and looking for any weak points, be that how you ride the bike or how you set it up.
Maybe the Kawasaki on Pirellis isn't the fastest turning bike and we needed the bike to be more nimble for the tight and twisty British circuits. But other than that we had a real good feeling from the front and changed the base set-up to help with the turning problem, so we could still do the lap times and look after the tyres. The Kawasaki's fast and it's got a great engine.