‘ I LIKE MY LIFE TO BE CHILLED OUT’
The most successful BSB racer ever tells us how his family routine keeps him grounded
We’re sitting outside a café in a sma l l Spani sh town, “Tres cafés por favor,” says the familiar voice of MCE British Superbike star Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
It confuses me for a second – we’re so used to hearing Shakey talk in his usual cheeky-chap North Kent accent that I hadn’t even contemplated he’d be able to speak better Spanish than I could understand (admittedly, not hard). He continues to order food for his two children, Zack and Lilly, again in perfect Spanish.
As the kids tuck into their chips and chicken nuggets, I pause for a mo- ment to think. Just over a week ago, this bloke won a record fifth British Superbike title and now he’s sat in an unassuming Spanish café ordering his kids something to eat while his wife Petra is out for a run in the hills. Back on full-time Daddy duty.
“Since winning the title I haven’t really done anything special,” he explains. “We’ve not been anywhere, done anything, we’ve just been planning and looking forward to getting back out here.”
By ‘here’, he’s referring to their holiday retreat on the North Eastern Spanish coast, where he and his family spend almost every school holiday.
“After the season ended, we took the kids out of school for a couple of days so we could make this a 10day trip, as when we come out here
during the race season it turns into a bit of a training camp! When we spent six weeks here in the summer, every day was a balance between me going out and doing anything from two to six hours on the push bike and Petra going out and doing god knows how many miles running in the mountains. This time, now we’ve got the championship boxed off, it’s a lot more relaxed and chilled out.”
It’s not hard to see just how chilled out Shakey is. When we arrived in his town, we met him at the local skatepark, where he was playing with Zack (7) and Lilly (5) on scooters. It was everything you’d expect, Dad showing the kids how it’s done, the kids in fits of giggles as he nearly falls off and then, of course, the tears and sulking when one of the kids slips off while the other, fulfilling their obligatory duties as a sibling, laughs and pokes fun.
“These are the only people who never judge me. They are the only people I don’t have to impress and they are the only people I want to make happy,” he says.
Having first raced in 1996, Byrne has been around the block a few times in his 20 years on track. When he won his first BSB title in 2003, he was both young and carefree – something he thought gave him the edge on his older competitors.
“When I was coming through the ranks in superbikes, I’d look at the likes of Hizzy and John Reynolds – the guys
who were older than me with kids and families – and think: ‘How can they be as focused as I am?’ I had no mortgage, no bills and no other worries, all I wanted to do was succeed.
“But when Petra and I first had Zack, I realised what having kids really does for you and it’s the days when things don’t go so well that it really makes a difference. No matter what has happened, when I get back to the motorhome, the kids are pleased to see me. They don’t care if I finish first, 10th, or 20th.”
Having already become the most successful British Superbike racer in history, Byrne has just penned a new two-year deal to continue racing in Britain – something he enjoys because it doesn’t interfere with family life.
“The thing with BSB is that it really suits having a family, apart from the organisers getting a bit anal about kids on scooters in the paddock!” he laughs.
“I like my life to be chilled out, and by racing in BSB I can be at home to put the kids to bed on a Sunday night and then get up and take them to school. It works perfectly.”
‘Now we’ve got the championship boxed off, it’s a lot more relaxed’ SHANE BYRNE
'MY kids are the only people I donõt have to impress and the only people I want to make happy'
Shane Byrne, five-times BSB Champ, and still hungry for more titles