SHANE 'SHAKEY' BYRNE
"So why 'Shakey'?
It's actually really boring, in fact if I'd thought about it I would have of lied about it from the word go!!!
I got out of a swimming pool as a kid in Spain and one of my friends called me Shakey Shane because I was standing there shivering as it was a bit breezy. How boring is that?! I was only about 11 at the time and since then it stuck."
- SHANE BYRNE
ON THE TRACK
Shakey started out on his own race bike, a Kawasaki ZXR 400 that he’d managed to do a deal with by part exchanging a road going Suzuki RGV250 and some money in order to get his racing career underway. His first victory came at his first ever race weekend which in turn came after just two days on track on the Kawasaki, the first at Lydden Hill circuit just outside of Dover in Kent and the 2nd a day at Brands hatch on the indy circuit. That first race weekend would be two weeks later at the same circuit and he never looked back from there!
Things moved fast from there barring a badly broken wrist at his 2nd event which almost finished his career before it had really started. The injury put him out for most of 1996 but a few rides were enough to show he was worthy of some support and he joined forces with Mark Linscott himself an ex Superbike champion and Alf Cooper who owned Cotswold communications who sponsored him for the 1997 season.
Results were fantastic, amassing around 58 victories that season which meant he got noticed by plenty including Colin Schiller who owned and ran Fastbikes magazine, a man well known for supporting young riders and helping open doors if their talent, mentality, ambition and desire were strong enough. Soon after Shakey started testing for the magazine and Colin got Shakey plenty of tests on race bikes which quickly aided Shakey along the way towards British Superbikes.
An on and off season in British Supersport saw Shakey embark on a couple of different Superbike tests with a victory that season at Supersport level opening the door to some Superbike races planned for the 1999 season, Shakey then emerged in the British Superbike Championship in 1999, initially on a private Kawasaki before getting an outing on the factory Kawasaki team bike at the final round of the championship at Donington park.
The turn of the millennium saw Shakey sign to ride the all new Honda SP-1 in BSB for his 1st professional contract, the year turned out to be a disaster with many big crashes ridding what turned out to be a massively uncompetitive bike with a best finish of 5th position that season.
In 2001 he finished eighth in the overall championship onboard the privateer Performance house Suzuki riding for Rick Cappella, the bike was an iteration of the bike which was raced in the world Superbike Championship in 1997 by the Harris brothers running the factory Suzuki WSB team. Byrne had five top-five finishes in the 2001 season and became the BSB Privateer cup champion winning 22 races out of 26 with two crashes and one technical issue.
He then joined Renegade Ducati for 2002, taking his first British Superbike Championship victory at Donington park on the national circuit before going on to secure another two victories that season, replacing reigning champion Steve Hislop at MonsterMob for 2003. He stunned the paddock by storming to a string of wins, taking the title with ease. He impressed further by achieving a double win at Brands Hatch for the British round of the Superbike World Championship.
For 2004 he joined fellow Brit Jeremy McWilliams in MotoGP with Aprilia, although he missed several races because of injury. The highlight of the year was in chageable conditions at the Italian GP in Mugello where Shakey was running in 4th position before the track dried up eventually dropping him back down to 10th. He spent much of 2005 racing for Kenny Roberts' team on a KTM bike, before they were forced to pull out due to an internal dispute between the chassis and engine manufacturers. He raced in Malaysia and Qatar for Camel Honda, replacing the injured Troy Bayliss and after finishing 14th and 13th and showing clear signs of progression despite being thrown in at the deep end Byrne impressed former250cc World Champion team owner Sito Pons enough for Sito to offer him the ride for the remainder of the season only for this to be overturned by Honda and for him to be replaced at Philip Island by Honda’s WSB rider Chris Vermeulen.
BACK TO BRITAIN
For 2006 he returned to the British Superbike Championship with Rizla Suzuki squad. His first podium came in Race Seven despite suffering a severe stomach virus that weekend. He missed Races 11 and 12 after a 187 mph crash caused by a brake failure; he was not seriously injured. At Knockhill he qualified second and followed with a second place finish in Race One. The team's first win of the season came in Race Two. This was despite the team's bikes having been stolen and dumped in a barn alongside horse manure the previous week. At the final round of the season he was running third when he highsided, being knocked out in the process. Although he again escaped serious injury, he was unable to compete in the final race of the year, which meant he slipped from fourth to sixth in the championship standings.
For 2007, Byrne was reunited with his former Monstermob boss, Paul Bird, who was now running the Stobart Vent-Axia team, a privateer team using the 1000cc Honda Fireblade. The Honda was competitive from the start, giving Byrne more opportunities to fight at the front. He finished fifth overall, with a win, a pole position, and nine further podiums.
Shakey impressed that much in 2007 on the privateer Honda that for the 2008 British Superbike Championship he was offered a job by Colin Wright to compete for the Airwaves Ducati squad on the all new Ducati 1098 alongside Leon Camier. The combo was immediately dominant. Byrne won three of the opening four races and because of it was given a 10kg weight penalty by the organisers which he shrugged off and did a double victory at the first race meeting with the additional weight on!! Shakey went on to back up his 2003 Championship sealing the Championship for the 2nd time at Silverstone.
Twenty-four hours after clinching the British Superbike Championship, Byrne confirmed that he would compete in the 2009 World Superbike Championship with the Sterilgarda Ducati team along with Alex Polita. This was his first full-time World Superbike Championship, although he has made successful wild card appearances in the past. Shakey very quickly became Sterilgarda Ducati's sole rider in February with financial problems from Polita’s sponsor forcing him out leaving the team with massive funding issues for the rest of the season but nevertheless he recorded his first podium with the team in second place in the first race at the San Marino round of the Championship.
Due to financial problems, the Sterilgarda team failed to announce its intention to compete in the 2010 Superbike World Championship season.
Left without a ride confirmed ride for 2010 In November 2009, Shakey finally announced that he had signed with the Althea Racing team for the 2010 season. He raced alongside former Honda rider Carlos Checa. Fastest once again in pre season testing and very fast again in the Australian pre season tests Shakey suffered a few BIG crashes knocking confidence, eventually the Althea team decided to run his bike on the 2009 spec electronics a far simpler system to the complicated 2010 set up used by Carlos but whilst it was simpler the performance levels weren’t the same and Shakey suffered most of the season trying to make up the difference.
RETURN TO BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Byrne returned to the British Superbike Championship in 2011 with Lincolnshire-based HM Plant Honda alongside Japanese rider and three-time British Superbike Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari. Having had a few seasons on twin cylinder Ducati’s at that point Shakey was determined to show he could ride anything and started as he meant to go on with a victory upon his return to BSB. 2011 was the 1st year of the Showdown and on the return to BSB Shakey actually scored the most points that year but due to the points format that wasn’t enough to take the title, something he would become somewhat accustomed to in years to come!
With yet more rule changes put in place for 2012 with the removal of electronic aides and a control spec ECU Shakey made a return to Paul Bird Motorsport along with Stuart Easton. The Kawasaki ZX10r was a great bike under these rules and Shakey used it to secure BSB title number 3 at the same time securing Kawasaki’s first championship victory in 20 years and now matched the all time most successful riders Niall MacKenzie and Ryuichi Kiyonari…. Equalling people wasn’t on the agenda though, beating them was..
2013 saw Shakey remain with the Paul Bird Motorsport team and embark on a season long battle with young up and coming rider Alex Lowes, the two had a great season with Shakey stating that racing Alex that year helped him re find his love of motorcycle racing, the title went down to the final round of the championship with Shakey losing out to Alex changeable conditions.
2014 Shakey once again remained at PBM, the battle this year with no other than his joint Championship victories rival Ryuichi Kiyonari, the pair were on another level and enjoyed an intense season long battle, eventually we were robbed of the all out war at the final round of the championship as Kiyo crashed in morning warm up and broke his collarbone meaning Shakey simply had to finish the races in order to secure that unprecedented 4th BSB title which he duly did in style in front of his home Brands hatch crowd.
2015 was a strange year, again in the PBM team and again fighting for the championship this year saw one of the oddest turn arounds in rider fortunes ever, having been the dominant force in BSB over the previous season from pretty much the half way point of the season it became impossible to beat his bitter rival Josh Brookes who seemingly could do no wrong on the all new R1, there were and indeed still are from many’s point of view hints of suspicion as to how these dominant displays were possible, in fact Shakey in his own words said “Josh Brookes didn’t become Josh Rossi overnight” in the end of the season Shakey decided if Kawasaki had nothing left to give machinery wise then we need a change of manufacturer, who knew his call there and then was the right one.
In 2016 Shakey remained with PBM but team owner Paul Bird brought Shakey factory supported Ducati Panigale R’s for this seasons British Superbike Championship. This was a move that some thought would be the beginning of the end for Shakey, the Panigale hadn’t even scored a podium in the BSB Championship but Shakey riding the Bewiser insurance sponsored bikes scored far more than podiums, he scored wins and those wins lead to him securing his 5th British Superbike Championship!
Having done the hard work of taking the Ducati from a somewhat unattractive proposistion to a championship winner and with the all new Ducati V4 waiting in the wings Shakey signed a new 2 year deal with Paul Bird, the plan to back up the 2016 Championship victory and to then move on to start work on the all new V4 using Shakey’s development skills. This plan pretty much immediately went out of the window however when Ducati launched the road bike as a 1200cc marking it impossible to race in BSB delaying it’s a debut a whole year, nevertheless the team and Shakey soldiered on and turned around what looked like Championship defeat at the final round to Shakey’s first ever back to back Championship victories!!!
2018 was always going to be tough, the Ducati was needing to be ridden hard to compete for wins in 2017 and with not much left to throw at the bike from a technical point of view 2018 was difficult, nevertheless a decent start to the season saw Shakey score podiums immediately as well as a victory at Brands hatch, the season and potentially Shakey’s life were cut short after an accident at the BSB official test at Snetterton where Shakey ran off track before colliding head on with a tyre wall. Shakey’s is currently trying to recover from the injuries sustained in that accident including a broken neck, back, chest, ribs, collarbone and a punctured lung, it remains to be seen if he’ll ever be able to jump back on a race bike.