What is it that motivates a world class racer?

Is it money, ego, love of the sport or a fear of failure? One way or another every racer faces the question every morning when they get out of bed; do I still want this enough?

The hunger for more is what has driven Shane Byrne to win six British Superbike championships but he admits that over the years his motivation has changed considerably.

Now it's about the journey as much as the result that drives the 41-year-old forwards.

“Honestly, finding the motivation is easy for me,” said Byrne. “This is the only thing that I've ever dreamed of doing. When I see kids coming through from motocross that have been racing for years and they burn out at 20 I remember that I used to be the same when I was younger.

"But now when I leave the track I can forget about racing. It becomes about my cycling, gym sessions and the time I spend with my family. That is so much more valuable to me and it means I'm refreshed when we go racing.

“I'll leave the track after a race weekend and not think about racing until the following round. I take myself away from racing when I leave the track because then once I get back to the circuit in a few weeks I'm excited again.

"Being refreshed means I'm super fired up when I get back to the track. The winter is a good example too because testing was only OK but we came to Round 1 and I was so keen see where we're at.

“We had a good weekend at Donington and are sitting second in the championship. I'll go home now and spend time with my kids and do my training and be ready for Brands Hatch.

"I'm really motivated ahead of this year but the big motivation for me is to get to the 100th win in BSB. I don't know how long I'll race in BSB but I do know that as long as the fire burns for me to win championships I'll be on the grid.”

Shakey's next target of 100 BSB victories would be double the tally of the next most successful rider Ryuichi Kiyonari. Having averaged eight wins a season since re-joining Paul Bird Motorsport, it's a realistic goal to further cement a remarkable career.

Having also raced in MotoGP (2004 and 2005) and taken a double win as a wild-card in World Superbike, Byrne's career is not to be underestimated. But there will always be question marks about how much more he could have achieved if the right opportunities had been presented to him.

For Byrne there are no real regrets, other than never having the bike to really show his speed on the world stage.

“People will say that I wasn't good enough for MotoGP or WorldSBK, but my answer is that Valentino Rossi is the greatest rider of all-time and when he went to Ducati he couldn't make it work," Byrne said.

"He's the best ever and even Valentino couldn't win if the package wasn't right so what chance does a guy like me have if he's on the Aprilia [2004] or the KTM [2005]?

“There were times when it looked like I was in the right place, 2009 with the Sterilgarda Ducati [in WorldSBK], but we didn't get the money invested that was promised. The following year I was team-mate to Carlos Checa but the only thing that was similar was our fairings!

"I still think that if you put me on the Ducati in WorldSBK this year that I'd do as good a job as Chaz or Marco. I've no doubt that I could do the job on the right machinery but the gulf in machinery in WorldSBK can be massive.

"Johnny Rea is achieving great things and he's riding great, but would he still be making that happen if he was on the Honda?

“The level of your bike is so important in World Championships because if you don't have the package you can't show what you can do. Sylvain Guintoli is a good example because he was world champion in 2014, but came to BSB and really struggled.

"Haslam won his last full-time WorldSBK round but we've beaten him the last two years. I think that I'm strong enough because Leon showed last year when he had a podium on the Puccetti what he can still achieve.

"I've no doubt that I could do the same with the right bike but I'm also aware that I'm 41 years old and that the target for me is to keep building my legacy in BSB.”

There's no bitterness in Byrne's voice about the hand that he's been dealt.

He clearly would have loved to showcase his talent on the world stage for longer and give a more complete account of himself, but he also knows that it's always been hard to get the opportunities at a young age in Britain.

That is beginning to change, but Byrne warns today's rising stars need to act quickly if they are to make an impact on the world championship.

“I think that young British riders can achieve success on the world stage, but you need to go there sooner rather than later," he said,

"Bradley Ray is the youngest rider in BSB and he's done a great job and it's great to see a rider get the chance to ride a Superbike when they're 19 because when I was younger that didn't happen.

"Now it seems that teams are giving younger guys a shot and hopefully they take that opportunity to shine.

“Jake Dixon at 22 years old and Luke Mossey is 26 and we can ask if they are good enough to do it at the world level but, with the greatest respect possible to those guys, Marquez was already winning MotoGP titles at their age.

"The likes of Marquez will already have five years of MotoGP experience and these guys haven't won a British championship. That's what you're up against.”

Comments

Loading Comments...