Yesterday (Wednesday) saw Aprilia Shane Byrne ride the latest specification Aprilia RS Cube for the first time, during the second day of testing at Jerez.

The Brit completed 53 laps of the Spanish circuit on the 'new' machine, which he and team-mate Jeremy McWilliams had expected to ride for most of the 2004 season.

Byrne's best lap was a 1min 43.957secs effort, which was 0.796secs quicker than he'd been on the standard spec machine the day before. However, it still left the 2003 British Superbike champion at the tail of the timesheets, 0.182secs behind team test rider Marcellino Lucchi.

"This bike is a step forward and represents a great starting point towards a competitive bike," said Byrne afterwards. "This Cube is steadier than the old one, and less tiring to ride. I'm not at my best yet as my wrist's still recovering, but I need to cover a lot of laps..."