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Byrne sees promise in Aprilia

Byrne sees promise in Aprilia

Byrne sees promise in Aprilia

Shane Byrne admitted it was nice to be back on a motorcycle at a shakedown test for Aprilia at Jerez last week after several weeks out with a wrist injury. The former British Superbike Champion set a best time of 1.43.957 over the three days but admitted the main focus of the session was to recover familiarity with the demands of a MotoGP machine.

"The test was pretty good to be fair, I never went there to go mad or break lap records or anything - for me it was literally just a case of get out there and do some laps to see how the wrist was," explained Byrne.

"We achieved that, we ran up some miles and we made a few notes on what we think needs doing for the new bike too so… all good. The only thing that wasn't so good was the lap times but we'll worry about them next season when the racing starts."

Byrne brought pit-lane to a worried silence on the first day when he suffered a nasty crash with the '03 version of the RS3 but he escaped without causing further injury to his wrist. "Basically, for some reason which either the data logging or me can't explain, the back end just came round on me and highsided me straight over the top off the throttle," he explained.

"I was gutted, angry and confused all in one because it shouldn't have happened. Everything remained intact and luckily I never hurt my wrist but I could've done without it."

Things brightened up for Byrne on the second day when he finally got the chance to test the '04 version of the three-cylinder bike that he had initially been scheduled to ride this season.

"It was kind of strange because the bike was set up for Lucchi, who's the team's test rider. My initial impression was real good, the bike felt pretty good, it felt a lot more compliant than the old one. After three or four laps I pulled in and was smiling because I thought Aprilia had done a real good job.

"After spending the rest of the day on it though I have to say that it hit a wall lap time wise a lot earlier than I hoped it would, I got stuck in a bit of a groove and couldn't go faster. But I'm the first to admit that I just went there to blow out a few cobwebs and see how the wrist was and in respect to that the test went perfect."

Despite the successful session at Jerez there has still been no confirmation from Aprilia whether or not the MotoGP project will actually go ahead in 2005 but Byrne was optimistic of a positive outcome in the near future.

"There should be some news regarding next year real soon now. Whilst I was out in Spain, Piaggio got given the go ahead by some European trust thing to actually be allowed to buy Aprilia so that's another step closer to going racing again.

"The day after we tested Aprilia's Managing Director headed off to Valencia for some sponsorship negotiations that should also be done and dusted pretty soon. I'm supposed to be away on holiday on Wednesday so it'd be awesome for me if I could head off knowing exactly who I'm going to be riding for next year."

MotoGP, 2004

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