FOR Cumbrian Paul Bird and his team, their 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign was nothing short of phenomenal.

After a tough 2018 season, Bird’s side, based in Langwathby, near Penrith, set about returning to winning ways - and did so in emphatic style.

One of Be Wiser Ducati’s riders, Scott Redding, became the first-ever rookie to claim the BSB title at Brands Hatch while team-mate Josh Brookes came second.

“It’s left us a bit speechless, to be fair,” concedes Paul.

“It was something that will probably never happen again, [winning] 21 races out of 27.

“It was just an awesome year, really. It was fantastic for us.”

Paul reveals he had initially, in fact, only set a target of 15 race victories this term.

“As I said, probably about 12 months ago, we needed to bounce back and we made some big changes,” he continues.

“Having only two wins [in the previous season], that was an absolute disaster for us as a team.

“So, we set a target of 15 wins. We knew we had employed two quality riders and it surpassed our expectations.

“We got to 15 and, then, we hit overdrive when we got to 15, and really dominated the season.

“It was a new bike, arriving from Ducati, going to a V4, so we knew the bike was going to be good.

“With the new bike, there were a few teething problems, but we overcame them quite quickly and raised the bar this year by quite a long way.

“It’s going to be difficult to surpass that now.

“But we can’t rest on our laurels. We are working hard ahead of next year already.”

This season, it was former MotoGP rider Redding, from Quedgeley, who made an instant impact in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, edging out experienced Australian Brookes while Tommy Bridewell finished up in third position.

“I think it was great for him, especially being the first rookie to ever have won the title,” enthuses Paul, father of driver Frank.

“There were lots of circuits that he had never been to because he had been at Grand Prixs all his life. He worked extremely hard away from the track, did his homework and we had a bike built for him that he could practice on throughout the winter.

“He might come across as a bit of lunatic but, when it’s done to business in the pits, he’s ultra, ultra-professional.

“But riders like him, they are eccentric, and you have to know how to look after them.

“Managing them can be quite testing at times, but he was winning races every week so we had to turn a blind eye to some of it.”

But Redding’s title-winning campaign is set to be his only BSB season as he has already signed a deal to race for the Ducati team in World Superbikes next year as Spaniard Alvaro Bautista’s replacement.

Paul says: “We got a rider that Ducati got rid of two years, rejuvenated his career, he’s won the British Superbike title – a really prestigious title to win - and he has stepped back into their factory team.

“I think we have done a good job for them, so I hope they hold us in high esteem for that.”

Team owner Paul also praised the work the support team do in ensuring the bikes are ready for the riders to use.

“In terms of reliability, it’s been great, bar some problems at the first meeting,” he admits.

“They all work hard here and work hard at the track. It’s not just all about the riders, it’s about the team, and we have a fantastic team at PBM.”

Looking ahead to the 2020 campaign as his side look to replicate their success once again, Paul says Brookes is set to stay with the team, and will be joined by Christian Iddon from Stockport.

“We have Josh again. It’s been great working with him this year. He’s been a breath of fresh air for the team, really,” Paul says.

“With the second rider, we are going to take a bit of a gamble, but I have a good feeling about the rider, Christian Iddon.

“I just think he is desperate to ride for us and he was saying all the right things. I had a choice of so many different riders, but I just went with my gut feeling for next year.

“I have been wrong [in terms of the personnel signed to ride for the team] before but, hopefully, I’ve got it right again.”