In one of the oddest press releases we have ever received at MotoMatters (though well short of the Liberty press release issued a day or so ago), Paul Bird Motorsport has denied rumors - started by team owner Paul Bird himself - that Shane Byrne is to replace James Ellison in PBM's MotoGP team. Bird told Bikesportnews at the BSB round at Oulton Park that Byrne would be replacing Ellison at Le Mans, "to get a second opinion". Bird was today forced to issue a press release denying that that was the plan, that PBM are committed to racing with Ellison for the 2012 season, and that both Byrne and Stuart Easton remain as test riders for the PBM team.
The idea of replacing one rider whose greatest shortcoming is currently a lack of time on the bike with another rider with even less time on the bike seemed madness from the very start. Confirming the team's original plan is an outbreak of common sense. If Bird was truly concerned about Ellison's performance aboard the Aprilia ART machine, all he need do is give the Cumbrian some more testing time on the bike.
Below is the press release from PBM:
Statement From Paul Bird Motorsport
Following recent speculation regarding James Ellison's participation in the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, the Paul Bird Motorsport Team (PBM UK) wishes to clarify that James will continue to race the CRT-specification Aprilia ART starting with the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on May 20th.
In order to assist with development with the project, the team considered utilising the services of another rider and whilst this remains an option either in future testing or in a race, the focus of the team will concentrate on James continuing to develop the machine in the forthcoming Grands Prix.
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It was unfortunate that James didn't finish the race in Estoril but he proved what the machine was capable of in Jerez. This is a long-term project and we have to look at all options available to us in achieving our goals, which both the team and James understand. Our concentration is now on getting the technical help we need and to make more progress at Le Mans and Catalunya."
As required by MotoGP regulations, the two nominated test riders for the PBM UK team are confirmed as Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton.