Shane Byrne has paid tribute to the development work his Be Wiser Ducati team has produced to turn the Panigale R into a championship winner having claimed a fifth MCE British Superbike title.
After switching from Kawasaki to Ducati over the winter Byrne admitted he faced a huge challenge transforming the Ducati into a winner in BSB having seen other teams struggle to turn the bike into a title contender in recent years, with the last Ducati title coming in 2008 when the Kent rider claimed the championship for Airwaves Ducati.
Despite missing out on the top spot of the rostrum over the first six races Byrne enjoyed a breakthrough moment at his home round with victory in race two around Brands Hatch Indy.
The Kent rider recorded nine wins across the campaign plus seven additional rostrum results to storm to the 2016 title, eventually winning by 27 points from Leon Haslam.
“When we announced we were changing manufacturers to Ducati who hadn't had a great deal of success in recent years there may have been a few riders and teams thinking what a result,” Byrne said. “The way we've worked this year it has been key not to rush or shortcut anything. It was a brand new project and Ducati gave us great support but they had no reference point in BSB.
“It took me six races to win a race with the Ducati but the work we did and our approach means we never had to go back over anything. We turned a bike from not winning for a number of years into a bike with nine wins in a season and a BSB title.
“If you look back to Silverstone the shapes we were pulling were not Panigale shapes! The bike is an out and out race bike and when you can ride it at 99.9% and it is enough the bike is incredible, so smooth and easy, but any time we struggle or need to go 100% then things get tricky because it is a rigid race bike. Ducati is interested in selling everyone a road bike through racing.”
Byrne has confirmed he is fully focused on retaining his BSB crown in 2017 as he hunts an unprecedented sixth title and says he is focusing on staying at his 'dream team' with Paul Bird Motorsport.
“We are only going to get stronger and I'm looking to get a multi-year deal sorted with Paul Bird,” he said. “He has been such an influential part of my career and there is no other team in this paddock that comes close. They know what I need and I know what they need and a partnership I hope it continues."