Yesterday it was reported by Toby Hirst that Shane Byrne would trade job opportunities with Jeremy McWilliams, both former teammates with the Aprilia MotoGP team. Byrne had been offered a respectable BSB ride late last year, but the British ...
Yesterday it was reported by Toby Hirst that Shane Byrne would trade job opportunities with Jeremy McWilliams, both former teammates with the Aprilia MotoGP team.
Byrne had been offered a respectable BSB ride late last year, but the British SuperBike Champion had held off as he had expressed his desire to stay in MotoGP. Meanwhile McWilliams, who had previously ridden for Kenny Roberts's Proton KR team, was rumored to be in the process of rejoining his former employer.
Today it was announced half of the rumor was true, as McWilliams has signed to ride in the BSB Championship.
But let us rewind the tape a bit to better understand what happened. As unbelievable as this may sound, MotoGP has not always been the most popular form of motorcycle racing in Britain. Unlike Spain and Italy, where MotoGP is second only to football (soccer), the British really love their SuperBikes.
Dorna, the MotoGP rights holder, understood this and recently signed a long-tern TV contract with the BBC. However, with the departure of Neil Hodgson to AMA SuperBike, the number of Brits (or more importantly, competitive Brits) in the MotoGP paddock was down to one, Mr. Byrne. Fighting an already uphill battle in the British market, having no British riders would make it even steeper.
This is where Dorna's involvement in this rumor comes in. The rumor suggests Byrne will take McWilliams spot at KR, thanks to Dorna. At the moment there has not been an announcement about the team's primary backer, who in the past had been Malaysian giant, Proton.
However, Roberts is hopeful "We'll mount a very respectable effort this year, thanks to a large part to KTM and Michelin. Their added help is going to really make the difference. I have no illusions, we're not going to mount an effort that is going to beat Valentino Rossi or Kenny Junior but it will be respectable."
Let us wait for the second half of the rumor to come true.