Shane Byrne insists 'no deal has been negotiated' to graduate to World Superbikes in 2009 as rumours persist in placing him at Sterilgarda Ducati for next year.
Byrne, who is on the verge of winning the British Championship this season, was tipped, along with Max Biaggi, to fill the Ducati Xerox seat being vacated by the soon-to-retire Troy Bayliss. However, both riders have apparently lost out to Noriyuki Haga.
Nonetheless, Byrne was spotted inside the WSBK paddock at Vallelunga over the weekend and rumours emerging from there are suggesting that he was in Italy to finalise a deal with the satellite Ducati team, replacing either BMW-bound Ruben Xaus or Aprilia-bound Max Biaggi.
Even so, Byrne, writing on his personal website, has played down his presence in the Sterilgarda garage, admitting that he is in talks with various teams, but he hasn't agreed anything yet.
“We had a few teams lined up to talk too as well as some meetings with the organisers and the whole day went real well. I bumped into a few old mates, spent a bit of time with a couple of different teams and even did an interview on Italian TV whilst in the Sterilgada teams hospitality, which no doubt got a few tongues wagging.”
“It was a successful day although I can officially tell you no deal has yet been negotiated to go to WSB, although talks are now ongoing.”
Having revived his reputation with a switch to Airwaves Ducati this season, a move that has seen him romp away with the 2008 British Championship, Byrne's success has been largely attributed to his ability to gel with the 1098 bike.
As such, given the announcement last week that GSE Racing will take on Yamahas in 2009, it would leave Byrne having to learn his way around another new bike. He remains in demand though, with GSE Racing team manager Colin Wright telling Crash.net
that he is keen to retain him.
Indeed, even Byrne admits he would have no qualms about staying with GSE, while the motivation of being successful on a Yamaha is also a big draw.
“I do have a good offer on the table to stay with my current team and go forward as Airwaves Yamaha and with others in BSB next year, which is something I'm really quite interested in too. My team's a mega team, with whom I'm really happy and the chance to ride a top spec four-cylinder is quite interesting as I had quite a good year last year on a privateer Honda."
Nonetheless, Byrne reveals he still has a 'burning desire' to go back to World Superbikes.
“It'd be pretty cool to try to win the [BSB] title again back to back on different bikes. The only problem is this burning desire of mine to get into and have a proper stab at the World Championship, I guess for now we're going to just have to kick back and see what comes of it all.”