Carrick’s Glenn Irwin hopes to draw on the experience of former British Supersport title challenger Ben Wilson as he sets out to make his mark in the class in 2014.
Wilson has stepped up to the MCE British Superbike Championship this season, with Irwin coming into the team to spearhead its Supersport challenge alongside young prospect and reigning National Superstock 600 champion Luke Hedger.
Irwin endured a difficult season in 2013, parting company with eventual champions Mar-Train Racing before joining CF Motorsport for the final rounds of the season, restoring some of his dented confidence with a fine ride to fifth place at the final race of the year at Brands Hatch.
“I’m with a team that has proved they can run two riders at the front and I know that if I’m coming into the garage with 10 minutes of qualifying remaining and I need something changed, then the guys will be there for me rather than focusing on one side of the garage,” Irwin told the News Letter.
“If anything, it’s a positive move for the team [joining the British Superbike Championship] because it raises the profile of our team, which is good for everyone concerned and also sponsorship-wise as well.
“I think it’s important also that Ben Wilson is still around this season as well. I get on quite well with Ben and I know that some people think he comes across as being a bid odd, but I think it’s just that he is so focused on the job,” he added.
“He’s been a massive help to me in the past. The bikes are the exact same as they were last year I know how competitive they are. I’ve a great team around me and I think it will be important to have the chance to pick Ben’s brain in regards to the Kawasaki this year.”
Irwin admits that his confidence was at ‘rock bottom’ in the wake of his split with Mar-Train, but the young Northern Ireland rider has regrouped and is confident he will be a frontrunner this year.
“When I left Mar-Train I was at rock bottom, my confidence was gone. I went with CF Motorsport to Assen and although it was a Yamaha, the bike was a lot different [to the Mar-Train R6] but I was able to run with [Billy] McConnell and [Graeme] Gowland in the second race,” he said.
“Brands Hatch was a lottery with the conditions but I had a steady fifth to end the year. It just shows that this game is all about confidence.
“I think we’ll have all the ingredients this season.”
Alastair Seeley narrowly missed out on the title in 2013 as Stuart Easton secured the championship for Mar-Train Racing on the Yamaha R6.
Seeley has joined Tim Martin’s team this season, but Irwin doesn’t feel his fellow Carrick rider will be his biggest rival.
“He’ll be under a lot of pressure this season because he’s with the current champions and he probably sees himself as the main man, but I think this year there will be other riders coming through with a championship challenge,” he said.
“Luke Mossey was injured last year and he’ll be right there, plus Jake Dixon, who is another threat. Graeme Gowland will be quick and I think he’ll be a real dark horse.”