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Shane Byrne officially signs for Aprilia

Shane Byrne officially signs for Aprilia

Shane Byrne officially signs for Aprilia

Shane Byrne visited Aprilia factory headquarters in Noale on Wednesday and put pen to paper on a deal which will see the British rider make his MotoGP debut on board the RS3 Cube next season. ‘Shakey', the reigning British Superbike Champion, sprang to international attention with a double WSB wildcard win at Brands Hatch earlier this year and had no hesitation when he was approached by Ivano Beggio to step into the MotoGP arena.

"When I was first called by Aprilia, I almost didn't believe it," said Byrne, who takes the place of Colin Edwards on board the three-cylinder four-stroke machine. "I only realised that it was true when I left for Valencia, the last GP of the season, to meet the Racing Director Jan Witteveen. I sat on the ‘Cube' for the first time, which really was amazing!"

The 24 year old admitted that he had turned down several top offers to stay in Superbikes so that he could chase his Grand Prix dream. "I had few other offers to compete in SBK but Aprilia beat them easily because my dream was to race in MotoGP. What convinced me more, beside the good project, was the fact that riders such as Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi started from Aprilia. They are my heroes and the thought of racing alongside them gives me an enormous motivation."

The prospect of picking up from former World Superbike Champion Edwards and trying to make the Aprilia competitive at tracks he does not know promises to be a tough task for Byrne, but he believes he is up to the challenge. "I know that the first year will be difficult - I'll have to learn the environment and the tracks and in the meantime help Aprilia develop the bike. It's not going to be easy, but I will dedicate myself to it totally. During the next few days I'll try to decide whether it's better to stay in England or move to Italy. Everything happened so fast that I haven't had any time to focus on the details."

MotoGP, 2003

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