Shane Byrne is confident he will get the equipment he needs to challenge towards the front of the World Superbike field when the season gets underway in the next few weeks.

The reigning British Superbike Champion will make his full-time WSBK debut in 2009 aboard a semi-privateer Ducati run by the Sterilgarda GMB team and is already making an impression on his rivals after topping post-season testing around the unfamiliar Portimao track.

Byrne and Sterilgarda now return to the Portuguese circuit this week for the first official test of the season, which is expected to provide a good indicator as to who will be amongst the riders to beat in this year's championship.

For Byrne, who will be one of five British riders on this year's WSBK grid, he admits the strong relationship he has within the team is already paying dividends on the track.

"Portimao went well but the best thing was that I had met the team in Vallelunga before that and we got on very well," he told the official World Superbike website. "So when it came to riding the bike at Portimao I felt really at home.

"You don't generally meet a new team and get such a good feeling from the go. After Portimao it was even stronger, so I'm looking forward to working with them again at the next test."

Set to ride the Ducati RS09, Byrne admits he expects the factory Xerox team to have a slightly 'different' version to his. Even so, he remains certain that he will have a bike capable of posing a challenge to his rivals.

"I think that at the start of the season all the bikes will be identical; the Xerox ones may be a bit different. But I think everyone who shells out the money for an RS 09 will get the same.

"I intend to work hard, keep my head down and if results are good we may get updates through the year."

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