With the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship set to get under way next month, there has been plenty of change at the Be Wiser Ducati team in the close season.

Paul Bird’s side, based in Langwathby, near Penrith, have unveiled their Be Wiser Ducati V4R bike. And for the new campaign, the team will be led by two new riders in the form of Josh Brookes and Scott Redding.

Team owner Paul knows a thing or two about successful sides, having already helped his team clinch six BSB Championship titles. He gave his team’s fresh wheels his seal of approval at last Friday’s launch.

“It looks phenomenal. We know the bikes are very good, so that has put a bit more pressure on us to make sure that we do our jobs right this year,” admits Paul whose son, Frank, put in a stunning performance on his stage rally debut to win his class at Sunday’s Donington Rally.

“We’ve made big changes in the team with our riders, and probably the biggest commitment we have ever had, so it’s going to be quite an exciting year for us.

“The bike is absolutely fantastic, it has already won the first two races in the World Superbikes Championships. It’s all boding well.”

In 2017, Bird’s team clinched their sixth BSB Championship title while Shane “Shakey” Byrne - the team’s star rider - claimed his sixth title.

But hoping for more success last term, Leon Haslam won ahead of Jake Dixon, while Be Wiser’s highest-placed rider, Glenn Irwin, could only finish third in the BSB standings. That came after a testing crash at Snetterton in May ended Byrne’s season and provided a huge dent to the team’s title prospects which, in truth, they never fully recovered from.

Ambitious owner Bird concedes that represents “a pretty disastrous” season for his side.

“We have set the benchmark. We are six-time champions and the most successful team in British Superbike history, so we are the ones everybody wants to beat,” Bird adds.

“After finishing third last year, which was a pretty disastrous year for us, we have made big changes because we need to bounce back and dominant the championship this year.

“We don’t like finishing second because it hurts, so every year we set the benchmark to be champions and we will see if it all comes to fruition.”

Be Wiser Ducati will begin their new campaign on April 19 at Silverstone before travelling to Oulton Park, Cheshire, for the weekend of May 4-6.

Looking ahead to the start of the 2019 campaign, Bird enthuses: “Yeah, we go to some good circuits at the beginning of the year. 

“Silverstone is a good circuit for our riders and we always go well at Oulton Park. We always go well at those circuits and we just need to make sure that we hit the ground running.”

Be Wiser Ducati’s new-look V4R bike will also be used at International North West 200 from May 12-18 when Alastair Seeley, the event’s most successful rider with 24 victories, will be behind the wheel.

Bird says: “The North West 200 is a fantastic event and we have enjoyed some great success over the years. 

“Three Superbike wins on our return with Ducati over the past couple of years has been magnificent and we want to build on that with the new Be Wiser Ducati V4R. So, who better than Alastair Seeley, the most successful rider of all time at the event, to ride the bike and we are confident we can challenge for more race wins.”

Former MotoGP ace Redding will make his hotly-anticipated switch over to the British Superbike Championship after signing with Be Wiser Ducati.

He is a four-time Grand Prix winner and is a two-time winner of the British Grand Prix, prior to making the switch in October. Redding, from Quedgeley in Gloucestershire, will be teaming up with Bird once again with the pair resurrecting a partnership which saw Be Wiser Ducati’s team boss back Redding in various junior championships at the start of his career which started in mini motos in 2001.

Redding will be partnered by Australian Brookes in the 12-round series.

Brookes, the 2015 BSB champion, has a wealth of British Superbike experience to date including more than 220 starts. He has had a long-running rivalry with former Be Wiser Ducati man Byrne who won’t be racing this season as he continues to recover from his broken neck and back, which he picked up in that crash at Snetterton.

Bird says: “We definitely have got two characters in the team this year. 

“I think everyone in the team is excited to have them both on board. 

“We will have to just try to control the characters in them and make sure they get the results.”