MonsterMob Ducati riders Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton finally got their hands on the Ducati machinery that they will contest their respective 2003 British Championships aboard, when they completed a successful two day test at Valencia last weekend.

26 year old Byrne was immediately impressed by the pair of brand new Ducati 998FO2's, which have been specially built for him at the Bologna factory over the winter, and despite treating the test primarily as a familiarisation exercise, the Isle of Sheppey rider was happy with his progress.

"It was a good test and ideal because it was at a circuit I'd never ridden at so I had nothing to compare it to," said Shakey [pictured]. "It was good to start working with the team and we tried a few different settings so I wasn't particularly bothered about lap times. We ended up combining our ideas and we got a setting somewhere near to the one I want which is positive. I just can't wait to get out on the bike again as I'm gagging to have another go!"

Byrne was gradually upping the pace towards the end of the first day but weather conditions deteriorated on day two meaning he couldn't go faster but the progress that was made was invaluable.

Meanwhile, defending Supersport champion Stuart Easton took to the reigns of his revamped 748 Ducati and was also on the pace at the Spanish circuit.

The 18-year-old Scot mixed it with a number of World Supersport regulars as he increased the pace but ended up sliding off his machine in the latter stages, luckily without injury.

"It was good to get back out on the bike again although I was disappointed to crash. I was just trying a little too hard and I lost the front," said the Hawick rider.

Team boss Paul Bird wasn't at the test but reported that he was satisfied with the weekend's work.

"It was all about the team starting to work together and the riders getting to know the bikes. Everything in the Superbike team is brand new for this season so it was important we got started as soon as we could. We'll have another test soon whereby we can judge our progress," said the Penrith businessman, who is currently attending the Monte Carlo Rally in readiness for his forthcoming season in his recently acquired Hyundai Accent World Rally Car.



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