After a topsy-turvy 2018 season for Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team, their Cumbrian owner has set his sights on bouncing back and regaining the Bennetts British Superbike Championship crown next campaign.

Having clinched a sixth BSB Championship last year, the team, based in Langwathby near Penrith, were hoping for more success this time around that would have seen them add further to, what is already, an extremely crammed trophy room.

But Leon Haslam won ahead of Jake Dixon, while Be Wiser’s highest-placed rider this year, Glenn Irwin, could only finish third in the BSB standings.

A testing crash at Snetterton in May ended Be Wiser Ducati’s main rider Shane “Shakey” Byrne’s season and provided a huge dent to the team’s title prospects which, in truth, they never fully recovered from.

Brothers Glenn and Andrew Irwin took the rides for Be Wiser but they struggled to have the same kind of impact as six-time champion Byrne had made in recent years.

"Disappointing is probably a good word for it, to be fair," admits Bird when asked to assess his side’s campaign.

"We only won two races all season and the team is used to winning 10 or more. It was disappointing for us, and disappointing for the sponsors.

"But that’s history now. We can’t change that and we have to look ahead, and think about what we can do next year."

Byrne, who badly broke his neck in the crash at Snetterton in Norfolk, has admitted he isn’t ready to throw in the towel and end his career just yet but, at 41, was unable to secure another year with Paul Bird Motorsport’s Be Wiser side following his accident.

"It’s one of those things. It’s a dangerous sport, people do have accidents and Shakey was just unfortunate," Bird says.

"Luckily, he wasn’t even more injured than we first thought.

"From there, we had to rebuild the ship for the team because it was built around him.

"Shakey was the team leader and we had some success with him, so it was back to rebuilding from the start again.

"It was hard to let Shakey go but he was probably coming towards the end of his career. Shakey was going to be 42 this winter, so it was maybe time for a change.

"But we are determined to bounce back and that’s why we have made some significant changes for next season."

Following Byrne’s departure, Bird conceded “We needed a big name” to replace the Sittingbourne-based Londoner - and moved for one of Byrne’s rivals.

Australian Josh Brookes, the 2015 BSB champion, was signed after coming fourth overall this year, alongside returning MotoGP ace Scott Redding, to formulate the team’s new-look line-up.

Asked if he would look for Brookes to lead in similar vein to the way Byrne had, Bird, whose son Frank competed in the Renault Eurocup Championship this year, confesses: "Possibly but I have history with Scott, as well [which saw Bird back Redding in various junior championships at the start of his career].

"I have known him since he first started off in his racing career.

"We know the new bikes will be good, we know the riders will definitely be good and let’s hope we bounce back with a strong 2019.

"I think they will complement each other, yeah.

"We will be looking to absolutely dominate next year after this year.

"Listen, racing is all about winning and we all know that we need to bounce back."

“Brutal changes” were required to the Be Wiser team, and one of those saw both Irwin brothers, from Carrickfergus, let go, despite Glenn finishing third overall.

Bird, though, pointed to a lack of race wins from the 28-year-old as the primary reason for his departure.

"For us, that’s a disaster. This team has never finished lower than second since the modern-day Superbike Championships began," he explains.

"We are used to dominating and winning.

"But Glenn has only won two races in three years and that’s not good enough for him to hold a position in the side for next year."

PBM, like other Cumbrian motorsport teams such as M-Sport, have made a real mark on the national scene.

And Bird is proud of his operation and the work his staff do behind the scenes.

He explains: "We have designed and built our own MotoGP bikes.

"We actually did compete for three years, as well.

"We are a team used to running at a high level, so we have a high-level of staff, and we demand high standards."

The 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship calendar will get under way at Silverstone on the weekend of April 19-21, before ending in October at Brands Hatch.