Byrne, Easton form PBM BSB return line-up
Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton will form Paul Bird Motorsport Kawasaki's rider line-up for the 2012 MCE British Superbike Championship season.
Paul Bird Motorsport has confirmed its return to the MCE British Superbike Championship with the signing of its former title-winning rider Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton.
The British-based outfit rejoins the domestic scene after four seasons spent competing on the World Superbike Championship stage, with three of those years spent as the team behind Kawasaki's factory-backed effort.
Despite its split with the manufacturer at international level, PBM will continue as a factory Kawasaki team in BSB, as well as embark on an ambitious sideline project that will see it compete in MotoGP with James Ellison riding a CRT bike.
For its BSB challenge, PBM has snared Byrne, who won the 2003 title for the team on a Ducati, and Easton, who is plotting his return to action having spent much of the 2011 season out through injury.
For Byrne, who finished third in 2011 with HM Plant Honda, he is delighted to be pairing with PBM again having last ridden a Honda for him in 2007.
"It's a bit like coming home as this will be the third time I'll have ridden for Paul and it's quite funny as you spend five minutes with the team and it's as if you've never been away! The team always puts out competitive bikes and the Kawasaki will be a major threat I reckon. You know Paul wouldn't be coming back to BSB if he didn't think he could win it so I think we'll have a real good shot at the title."
Easton, who hasn't competed since the horrific accident at the North West 200 that left him in hospital, can't wait to get back into action.
"My injuries are healing well and everything should be sorted in time for me to start testing with the team as planned. It's great to be back with PBM and I appreciate the support they have given me this year whilst I was out. We have enjoyed so much success together in the past, I'm really looking forward to this challenge and if we can replicate that it will be great."
Having won races during its BSB wild-card outings at Brands Hatch in 2010, Bird is confident he has a package capable to taking Kawasaki to its first title since 1992.
"When we decided to return to British Superbikes, signing both Shakey and Stuart was always the plan and I'm delighted they've come on board with us. We've won British championships as well as World championship races together and for me it's my dream team.
"We have proved that the Kawasaki ZX-10R is a fantastic bike and have won on it at BSB in 2010 so we know what we need to do. I promised Stuart a deal straight after his crash and he'll be back to full fitness very soon and with Shakey keen to make up for missing out this year, we are ideally placed."
Byrne's defection from HM Plant Honda, coupled to the confirmation that Ryuichi Kiyonari will also not race with the team in 2012, means the 2010 championship-winning operation will have a new rider line-up for next season.