Shock as British Superbike team owner Paul Bird passes away aged 56 after short illness

British motorcycling has been left shocked following the sad news that prominent team owner Paul Bird has passed away after a short illness.
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The 56-year-old, who ran the BeerMonster Ducati team in the British Superbike Championship, died on Friday.

A statement issued on behalf of the team said: “The Bennetts British Superbike Championship is deeply saddened to announce the sudden passing of Paul Bird, the Team Owner of Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM), the series’ most successful team.“Paul died earlier today at the age of 56 following a short time in hospital with illness.

“Paul’s family are requesting privacy during this time.”

British Superbike team owner Paul Bird has died aged 56British Superbike team owner Paul Bird has died aged 56
British Superbike team owner Paul Bird has died aged 56
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Northern Ireland’s Glenn Irwin currently rides for Mr Bird’s team and is second in the British Superbike championship standings behind team-mate Tommy Bridewell with three rounds remaining.

Ulsterman Ryan Rainey is also employed by the team as Irwin’s crew chief.

One of the most successful men in world motorsport, Mr Bird was a former Grand Prix motocross rider and World-ranked rally driver.

He was overseeing his BSB team for a 27th consecutive season from his offices in the Lake District in 2023.

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The highly regarded entrepreneur formed his own team in 1996 and contested the 250cc British Championship, going on to win the title with John McGuinness in 1999.

In 2000, the team made the switch to British Superbikes with James Toseland and won their first BSB race in 2001 when an injury-hit Steve Hislop finished as the runner-up in the championship.

The following year, Scotsman Hislop clinched the team’s first BSB title with Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne retaining the crown for Paul Bird Motorsport in 2003.

Mr Bird was also a keen supporter of road racing and backed Joey Dunlop in his final year at the Isle of Man TT in 2000, when the Ballymoney rider famously won the Formula One race as part of a hat-trick, while Michael Dunlop rode a Paul Bird Kawasaki on the roads in 2011.

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Jeremy McWilliams is also among the many top names to have ridden for Bird over the years.

Morecambe man McGuinness won the first of his 23 TT races in 1999 on a PBM 250 Honda and the team has also enjoyed six wins at the North West 200 and four victories at the Macau Grand Prix.

PBM has also scored Grand Prix World Championship points in the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix classes.

The team ran Kawasaki’s official World Superbike effort in 2008 and claimed a win with Tom Sykes.

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Four years later, PBM switched to the MotoGP premier class to run a PBM Aprilia in the CRT category, with James Ellison sealing a win in the Claiming Rule Team class. Michael Laverty also rode the Aprilia as the team expanded in 2013 and 2014.

A full-scale return to BSB followed in 2014 with Byrne crowned champion again. Further titles followed in 2017 with Byrne, Scott Redding (2019) and Josh Brookes (2020) lifting the silverware to give PBM a record eight British Superbike championships.

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