For a team owner who had just lost his main sponsor and learned that his championship-leading rider might do a runner at the end of the season, Paul Bird is in remarkably good humour.
In fact, the Cumbrian was showing more interest in the Ducati 916 being prepared for the Classic TT and more concern that Penrith Football Club, which he supports, had lost their first two games.
“The phone’s never stopped ringing,” he said. ”I’ve had calls from more that half a dozen riders and we are already getting interest from one or two sponsors.”
The success of Scot Redding on the PBM Ducati V4R, now odds-on favourite to win the2019 Bennetts British Superbike title, made his return to the world stage a certainty and sure enough a call came from Ducati chief Paulo Ciabatti, an old friend of Bird’s, offering the 26-year-old an opportunity to succeed to Alvaro Bautista, a surprise departure.
The PBM team has the good fortune to have a proven race winner in Josh Brookes, a former champion and still very much in the race for this year’s title, but there is already great speculation who will fill Redding’s seat. Could there be another import from MotoGP, Moto2 or World Superbikes.
There are half a dozen top class riders, some British, who could be looking for something to do and as Xavi Fores and Hector Barbera, not to mention Redding, have shown class can overcome lack of circuit knowledge.
But there is also a queue of current BSB stars who would give their right arm to ride the Panigale, including one or two very promising youngsters.
But everything needs money and securing a major sponsor is critical to success. Insurance company Be Wiser, with their colourful branding and livery, added more to the team than just money and its success must be delivering excellent value.
Its termination after four years was not surprising as most sponsorships are relatively short term. But the success of the team and the size of the audiences, with record crowds at the circuits, plus high viewing on TV and increasingly online, make for very effective marketing for products consumed by that audience – insurance being one of them.