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This interview took place on the Ducati UK stand at Motorcycle Live, Sunday 19th November.

Niall Mackenzie: We have a very important man on the stand, a very special guy. The very best British Superbike rider ever. Six times British Superbike Champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne. Shane afternoon. I’ve got to ask you. New Panigale V4. You’ve ridden so many amazing bikes in your career. When you first saw that did it tick any boxes?

Shakey Byrne: Well, visually yeah. But look at that thing [points to his BSB title-winning Panigale R]. It’s really, really easy for you to listen to me talking now and saying ‘oh you ride a Ducati and you race for Ducati and of course you’re going to say it’s a beautiful looking bike’. But genuinely I think the Panigale is. But then you look at the V4 and it’s another step again. I don’t know how they do it. When you look back to perhaps even the Ducati 916 when that one came out it was like a revolution in motorcycling. They just seem to do it every year. They bring out a new model and they just get cooler.

Niall Mackenzie: I can remember when the 1098 came out and I went out on the launch at South Africa and I was walking round that bike and I could not fault it, at every single angle. Normally on a bike there’s something you’re not quite keen on. But that was amazing. And I guess when you have a relationship with something like this that makes a massive difference as well. I mean you’ve been through the highs and lows all of last season and this season and done some incredible things as a partnership. That must make a difference with a bond to a bike as well?

Shakey Byrne: When we came back to Ducati last year it had been a really, really long time since I’d last ridden one. The funny thing was, the minute we collected the bikes, obviously they come carbon fibre all over them and they’re absolutely beautiful. But bearing in mind the last one I rode was like 2002, you kind of sit on this bike and there’s just Ducati things, you feel, you can tell what you’re on. And this bike was, I don’t know. I still look at it now, walk around it, stand in the garage sometimes and if we’re doing a debrief or whatever and I just stare at the thing. I think if you like it like that you’re going to try and ride it like that.

Niall Mackenzie: Have you kept any race bikes? Have you got any race bike presents, championship winning bikes?

Shakey Byrne: No, is the honest answer. I once had the Performance House Suzuki I raced but I sold that. What I do have is a set of leathers from every single year that I’ve race and a crash helmet and I’ve always made a point of keeping them. Sometimes, race bikes, they’re a lot of money, aren’t they? And the team don’t want to give them away. They want to sell them at the end of the year. I think all of the bikes, including this one, are all sold. So, next year we’ll start with two brand new Panigales again. But they go really, really quickly. Especially when they’re done well.

Niall Mackenzie: Something I’ve wanted to ask you. Six championships, 6th championship this year. Some fierce opposition over the years. For me this year Leon Haslam is someone who can keep me on my toes, you can never write him off no matter how bad things are through practice. Over the years has there been one rider who’ve you thought ‘this guy’s difficult to deal with’? Has there been anyone who’s stood out as the most competition over the years?

Shakey Byrne: Well…

Niall Mackenzie: I’m before his time!

Shakey Byrne: Only just! I did race you a couple of times. You know what, it’s funny because there’s not one person who I’d say, ‘ah yeah, it’s this guy’. I mean the guy I’ve most competitively raced is probably Josh Brookes. And we don’t get on as people to talk to each other. That’s by the bye, I don’t need to be his friend. But in terms of racing the guy I have a lot of respect for him because I think that we race really, really hard together and I trust him implicitly, you have to, you can’t not. I think that the feeling is mutual. So, on track there is a really, really high level of mutual respect and the racing’s good because of that.

But there’s been times when you know when we worked together back in 2006. And at the end of 2006 after the era with Rizla Suzuki I was so over racing motorbikes I said to Niall ‘I’m not feeling it, I’m not enjoying it no more, I don’t want to do it. And Niall actually said to me way back then ‘Your best is yet to come, you’ve not peaked, keep at it.’ Since then lots of things have happened.

Alex Lowes is a stand out rider and Kiyonari as well in 2014. The year I has with Alex really, really lit my fire. He was a young kid, amazingly fast. He’d crash now and again but then he got out of control and stayed ever faster. Racing him and racing as hard as I had to really, really fired me up. And the same with Kiyo, when he rode for BMW he was really strong. And that was another really, really good thing.

Niall Mackenzie: You’ve got class, you’ve got talent and you’ve won championships. It doesn’t go away but you can definitely get on a bike that you think ‘this bike’s alright, the specs say it’s a good bike’ but the results aren’t coming. And it’s the bike. You can spend a year banging your head and it can really demoralise you. But the moment you switch or get on the right bike then all the talent comes back and the results with it.

Shakey Byrne: And that’s the funny thing you know. They always say a happy rider is a fast rider. You need to be in a happy environment. And I’m really, really lucky. I have a beautiful wife, two lovely children and when racing finishes I leave the track on Sunday night and I have to be with them. That’s my life away from racing. As soon as they go to school I have to train. And then I finish my training, have a shower and go back and pick them up from school and become a dad again and become really detached from everything to do with racing. I think that over the years, we spoke earlier on about what you do to stay sharp, with some of the training we do or whatever to keep ahead of the game, I think it’s really important in my stage of my career that I do go to the race, do my job to the very best of my ability and then go home and forget all about it until the next one. I’ve been racing motorcycle a long time and you know it’s a very competitive sport and a very small environment. It’s the same people you see all the time so going home detaches you from it, going cycling or going to the gym, whatever I do to make sure I’m better the next time I go back. I think it’s important. It’s the way I go about things now to keep in business.

Niall Mackenzie: And it works so for now so now reason to change that. Shane, thanks.