It's been almost seven years since Shane Byrne took his first and so far only World Superbike race victories, as a wild-card at his home Brands Hatch round.
After that the Englishman raced in MotoGP, then came home to claim a second title in BSB before finally starting his first full WSBK season in 2009.
Last year brought a solitary second position with the Sterilgarda Ducati team, but a sideways switch to the revised Althea outfit - combined with more potent machinery - has resulted in both Byrne and team-mate Carlos Checa consistently at the sharp end in winter testing.
On Monday, just days before the first round of the season at the same Phillip Island circuit, Byrne and Checa underlined their potential by being second and fourth quickest - Shakey lapping just 0.012sec behind fastest man and factory Ducati star Michel Fabrizio.
“We had a bit of a [bike] problem in the afternoon session but it was good to make a fast time this morning," said Byrne. "It was a little bit disappointing to get pipped this afternoon. But it is only a test so it is not the end of the world. It's very positive for the team to have both riders high in the rankings going into next weekend. We can't be too upset to finish second today by only a small margin.”
Former Ten Kate Honda rider Checa, a race winner during his debut 2008 WSBK season, was fastest on day one of the test and is also feeling confident ahead of his Ducati WSBK debut.
“I'm pretty satisfied with this second day of testing,” said the Spaniard, who finished 0.3sec from Fabrizio. “This morning I worked hard with my technicians thinking about the upcoming races. In the afternoon, we tested some new components. We used two types of tyre, but for the race next week we'll also use some other different tyres already tested by official riders. I'm happy because we almost completed our planned work schedule and I'm feeling quite confident for the first two races of the championship”.
“Both our riders were consistently fast, they worked very hard and the results speak for themselves” declared general manager Genesio Bevilacqua, whose team switched from Honda to Ducati machinery over the winter. “I want to thank all our technical staff for the great job done during these two days and also Ducati who put our team in the condition to reach these excellent results. Following these tests we now know we have a very competitive package and we're definitely looking forward to the season.”
Another satellite Ducati ruder, Jakub Smrz, set the third fastest lap time. Ten Kate's Jonathan Rea was fifth, with Fabrizio's factory team-mate Noriyuki Haga sixth.