Byrne takes to new machine in Spain

Shane Byrne kicks off his return to the British Superbike Championship with a test aboard the HM Plant Honda at Calafat.
Shane Byrne has described his new HM Plant Honda bike as a 'missile' as he took to the machine for the first time during testing in Spain.

The former BSB champion returns to the series in 2011 after two years spent on the world stage, Byrne pairing with former WSBK rival and 2010 BSB winner Ryuichi Kiyonari at HM Plant Honda.

The first time the 34-year-old has ridden anything other than a Ducati since the end of 2007, though he says he spent the first day at Calafat adjusting to the four-cylinder machine, he is already confident he will be fast on it.

"It's been a good day; if a bit windy here which catches you off balance at times but aside from that we have made a really good start. We put in a good number of laps and got some of the initial work done that is always needed at the start of the season. My initial reaction to riding the HM Plant Honda is that the Fireblade is flippin' fast, especially after a few months off!

The engine characteristics are obviously different to the Ducati which I rode last season but it does feel like a missile. We haven't made too many changes today, just tried to get my riding position right so I can adapt to the new bike and we have done some good work this afternoon on the electronics.

“I have some experienced guys working around me so tomorrow we are going to crack on and start making some changes."

Team-mate Kiyonari, meanwhile, was reunited with his 'No.1' plate as he also took to track, the Japanese rider pleased to be riding again after a long winter period.

"I am very happy already to be back with the team and riding again because the few months off were very long. The new HM Plant Honda feels fast already and we have done some good work today on the electronics and tomorrow we will look more at the chassis and machine balance as I still want to be faster, but this will come with more laps.

“Each day we need to push hard and improve to be faster as the other riders will too but today was good for getting back on the bike and riding again."

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