By Peter McLaren and Andy Stobart
Former British Superbike champion Shane Byrne will get his second bite at the MotoGP cherry this season, after signing an eleventh hour contract to ride a Team Roberts run Proton KR-KTM in the 2005 world championship.
"Well as of about 10 or 15-minutes ago I'm actually officially going to be riding in MotoGP now - I've just signed my contract - so I'm a happy boy, you've got me at a good time," revealed Shakey, when Crash.net
caught up with him at last week's London MotoGP launch.
The revelation proved irresistible: "So what were the terms on that contract, they're fresh on your mind, you'll be able to tell us?"
"I can't remember how many zeros there were, but there weren't enough that's for sure!" Byrne joked. "No, it's a really good deal and I'm really happy. They say good things come to those who wait and I think I've waited long enough.
"It's the perfect combination of youth and experience; the experience of the Roberts team and the youth - and newness - of KTM. Now all I've got to do is get on and get the thing going better."
Looking back slightly, Shane was then asked about the situation with his 2004 employer Aprilia. Byrne had signed a multi-year deal with the under funded Italian team, but they were forced to pull out of the premier-class at the end of last season, leaving the Brit, and his team-mate Jeremy McWilliams, high and dry.
However, Shakey holds no ill feeling towards Aprilia - with whom he turned heads in the early part of last year despite riding a 2003 spec machine. Byrne took his RS Cube to a best finish of 10th on his way to 20th in the championship, having missed six out of the last seven races due to a broken wrist.
"That's one thing that I'd like to go on air saying; I owe Aprilia great deal, it was them that gave me my shot in MotoGP, they took the risk that not many people in MotoGP seem to take and gave me a shot at it in the first place, so I owe them," said. Byrne. "That all came to an amicable end a couple of weeks ago. Now it's on to new things."
And what other options were on the table for this year?
"There were a lot of options on the table - but a long, long time ago," replied Byrne, who was being pursued by his former BSB boss Paul Bird, who eventually signed McWilliams. "I've got this bug called MotoGP. I don't want to be anywhere else now; I really, really like it here. There are some nice people around, you get to see the world and it's an unbelievable lifestyle.