Dream team of Redding and Brookes aims for top
The Paul Bird Motorsport team have pieced together their dream team for the Be Wiser Ducati attack on the 2019 British Superbike Championship with the announcement that 2015 champion Josh Brookes has signed to ride alongside returning Grand Prix contender Scott Redding.
The exciting new pairing replaces that of Glenn Irwin, who has now signed for JG Speedfit Kawasaki, and six-time champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, who is currently injured after his practice crash at Snetterton back in May.
Glenn's brother Andrew had filled in since the unfortunate Byrne's accident, and he certainly didn't let the team down despite never having ridden a Superbike previously.
Brookes has a wealth of British Superbike experience to draw on. He has more than 220 starts in the series and is fourth in the all-time race winners list with a total of 39 victories, prior to the final round this weekend at Brands Hatch.
The 35-year-old from New South Wales, Australia has a strong racing pedigree having been runner-up three times in Britain's premier series. He was also the Australian Superbike champion in 2005 and has been a World Supersport winner.
Brookes commented: "PBM have been the benchmark during much of my time in BSB and always set the bar very high, with Shakey as my main rival.
"The all-new Be Wiser Ducati V4 will be an awesome bike and I'm excited to be part of this challenge and to start winning regularly again."
Bird added: "Josh is a quality act who is totally focused on winning, and we plan to give him the tools to do the job, as we will for Scott Redding.
"There should be some healthy rivalry within the garage. These are exciting times and a new era for PBM and we cannot wait to get started in our quest on winning back the BSB Championship, our sole aim in 2019."
Of course, Brookes is no stranger to road racing fans - he took the Norton around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Circuit at more than 131mph in the Senior TT back in June on his way to a fifth-place finish.
He is also the winner of the 2017 Classic Senior TT on a Winfield Paton, secured two podiums at the 2014 North West 200 in the second Superbike and first Supersport races, also set a Superbike lap record of 122.958mph and was the fastest TT Newcomer in 2013 with a lap of 127.726mph on the Tyco Suzuki.
Only Peter Hickman and Davey Todd have achieved faster newcomers speeds since.
Will he return to either events in 2019? It's doubtful.
Even though Glenn Irwin rode to the last three Superbike race wins at the North West 200 for PBM Motorsport, the target of BSB Championship victory is No.1 on the team's 2019 agenda, plus they have a couple of World Superbike wildcard rides.
Meanwhile, after the euphoria of winning a record fourth World Superbike Championship - and having thousands attend the signing of his new book 'Dream Believe Achieve' in both Belfast and Coleraine last Saturday, Jonathan Rea will go into the penultimate round of the 2018 World Superbike series in Argentina on Saturday and Sunday treating it like any other race meeting.
A new adventure awaits this weekend with the first WSB visit to Argentina and a brand-new Circuit San Juan Villicum.
Ulsterman Rea stated: "It's my first visit to South America and to a completely new track that has literally just been completed.
"We all start with a blank sheet of paper in free practice one on Friday morning and take it from there.
"It's up to me to learn the track fast and hopefully enjoy it."