Shane Byrne has confirmed that he will not return to defend his British Superbike Championship in 2009 after revealing he is leaving GSE Racing to pursue a deal in the World Superbike Championship.
Although the identity of his new employers remain unknown, Byrne is set to become the fourth British rider to be confirmed on the World Superbike grid next year.
Speaking to Crash.net
after winning his second career BSB title at Silverstone, Byrne admits he is sad to be leaving the team with which he has won 19 podiums in 22 races this season.
"It has been one of the best experiences I have had in my career. I am made up with the team and my team-mate, my mechanics, my bike... It has been a fantastic year, so I am sad to be leaving. We need to try and progress though and World Superbikes are the next step, so that is where I need to be."
GSE Racing team manager Colin Wright led the praise for Byrne, who's title win signals the team's fourth.
"On behalf of the whole of the Airwaves Ducati team and GSE Racing I would like to thank Shane for a fantastic year. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Shane on the way to a fourth championship win for GSE Racing and we wish him all the best for 2009 and beyond."
Byrne's whereabouts in 2009 remains a topic of speculation, with Sterilgarda Ducati, Aprilia and perhaps Yamaha the most obvious berths for the Kent rider.
Spotted in the Sterilgarda garage at World Superbikes last weekend, Byrne has also been linked with Aprilia after riding for them in MotoGP back in 2004.