Shane Byrne says he's relished the fresh opportunity of turning the Ducati Panigale into a race winner in the MCE British Superbike championship but feels he's working on a 'blank atlas' at the start of a race weekend.
The Be Wiser Ducati rider made the return to the Italian manufacturer with his PBM squad over the winter and re-establishes a partnership which saw him to his first two BSB titles in 2003 and 2008.
Considered as a bold move by some onlookers, Byrne was taking on a bike which hadn't claimed a victory in BSB since its introduction while ditching the Kawasaki ZX-10R which he'd claimed two BSB titles in four years.
The Kent rider admits it was difficult to accept in the opening rounds when he had missed the top spot on the rostrum but after an earlier than expected breakthrough win in race two at Brands Hatch Indy Byrne is relishing the challenge of turning the Ducati into a title winner.
“It was a bitter pill to swallow at the start of the year until you get yourself sorted out,” Byrne told Crash.net
. “At the same time I love that we turn up every weekend with a blank sheet of paper and when we get a full dry weekend we've proved we can dial the bike in.”
After turbulent pre-season testing, Byrne says the Panigale is still a bike he adores and at 39-years-old is feeling revitalised by the fresh challenge and potential the bike posses.
“The Ducati is a proper race bike, any lack of feel is punished, it demands that is ragged around and if you don't take it by the scurf of the neck and demand what it should do it can play up,” he said. “When you get closer to that setting and feeling where it works the bike becomes fun and wants to go faster!
“Hopefully every weekend that blank sheet of paper will get smaller and smaller and we'll have a decent place to start from.
"At the moment it is an atlas but hopefully it will be a small note piece. It is like building a house, starting with foundations and when they are solid the house will be beautiful.”
Byrne expects to take on his first raft of Ducati upgrades for the next round at Knockhill and his Be Wiser Ducati squad is currently finalising new exhaust and engine parts.
After the opening three rounds, Byrne is second in the BSB riders' championship and just three points off of leader Leon Haslam on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Byrne has also accumulated the second highest total of rostrum credits with 11 (Haslam on 12) with six rounds to run until the Showdown takes effect.