Andrew Irwin will line-up on the Bennetts British Superbike grid once again in 2019 after signing for Honda Racing.
Irwin impressed during his debut stint in the series this year, after replacing the injured Shane Byrne at Be Wiser Ducati. Racing alongside his brother, Glenn Irwin, the Ulsterman grew in confidence on-board the Ducati and was challenging inside the top five towards the end of the year – posting a best finish of fourth at Brands Hatch.
Speaking about his move to Honda, a delighted Irwin said:
“Honda has such a pedigree and most of the top riders in the world have ridden for them at some point in their careers. To be part of that racing history and heritage really excites me. This year was my first year in Superbike and was a huge learning curve! Towards the end of the season I found my way and felt it was all coming together, so now with Harv and the team I will be aiming for the Showdown, which I believe is a realistic target.
“We will have a full season and also a test programme, which I didn’t have this year and I was still competitive, so we’ll be aiming for the front and I see no reason why we can’t be up there.”
Irwin will be part of a whole new line-up for Honda in 2019, with both Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran leaving the team. O’Halloran is expected to be at McAMS Yamaha next season, however Linfoot’s future is not yet known.
Team manager, Havier Beltran, is looking forward to seeing Irwin challenging the top riders next year, and was also keen to thank Linfoot and O’Halloran for their work at the team. He said:
“Firstly I would like to thank Dan and Jason for all their hard work over the last few years, it’s been a pleasure working with them. Honda (UK), the team and myself would like to wish them both the very best in the next chapter of their careers.
“Andrew’s talent shone this season and it was great to watch him progress, with a full year and our proceeding testing programme I think we’re going to see good things from Andrew and I’m certain that he’ll be mixing with the front group.”
Irwin’s teammate is expected to be announced within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, Tom Neave will compete for the Honda in the Superstock 1000 class. Neave impressed earlier on in the year when he stepped in for the injured Linfoot.