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Bird putting PBM’s MotoGP future in place

22 June 2013

PBM owner Paul Bird was present in Catalunya last weekend to start putting the pieces in place for the 2014 MotoGP season.

The British team made its MotoGP debut with a single ART entry for James Ellison in 2012.

The squad then expanded to two riders - and created its own Aprilia-powered prototype - for this season, when PBM is also defending its latest BSB title with Shane Byrne.

Rookie Michael Laverty is on the PBM grand prix bike, with Columbian Yonny Hernandez riding the full Aprilia package. Hernandez is presently sixth and Laverty eighth, out of twelve riders, in the CRT standings.

“2014 will see the next step for us in MotoGP,” Bird told Crash.net. “We'll have a much bigger presence in the paddock and be a strong privateer team. I'm going to be at most of the upcoming races to start putting things in place.”

The CRT MotoGP class is set to undergo big changes next season, when machinery from Yamaha and Honda will become available.

“There are some important decisions to make, especially for the engines,” said Bird. “It looks like the claiming rule is finished so Aprilia will have to upgrade their engines. They'll need to make an improvement if they'd like to retain us as a customer.

“We've also got to look at the Yamaha [M1] engines, the Honda production bike, leasing bikes. We'll start to talk to Ducati as well, why not? They build MotoGP bikes and the engines are fast enough on the straight. We've got our own bike to run them in.

“We started this [PBM bike] project and want to keep it going,” Bird added. “We're happy with chassis, but engine-wise we're limited with what we can do.”

The PBM machine began the season with virtually no testing, but scored points in only its third race and has already caught the eye of prestigious figures in the MotoGP paddock.

“When people like Jeremy Burgess [Valentino Rossi's crew chief] come up to you and say you have a lovely motorbike, you're not doing a bad job are you?” said Bird. “Designers from HRC [Honda] have said that the chassis looks fantastic - the head of design for HRC said that.

“We're up to step three with our bike and have plenty of ideas to improve it. There are still a few rough edges. I've got a lot of key personnel in the BSB team as well, good engineers, and two of them have been helping out here when we've had a few problems.

“We'd like both riders using the same bikes next year. That'll make development a lot easier.”

PBM's bike is the only entry running an Aprilia engine with the brand-new standard ECU system, which will be made compulsory next season.

“We knew we were going to get a rough ride with the standard ECU this year. But we were the first people to commit to that. I told Carmelo [Ezpeleta] we'd do it before anyone else,” said Bird.

“It was the right thing to do and the experience should pay off next year, especially if we stay with Aprilia.”

Almost certainly staying with PBM will be Laverty.

Plucked from BSB to ride the new machine, the 32-year-old - brother of WSBK star Eugene - has looked at home in MotoGP ever since his debut test, on Hernandez's spare ART, at Sepang in February.

“I'm very keen to keep Michael,” confirmed Bird. “We got him at a bit of steal this year. I'd like to get him some more money and ramp him up a bit next year. The team will be happy to keep him.”


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