Northern Ireland brothers Glenn and Andrew Irwin will lead the charge for Honda Racing on the brand-new Fireblade S1000RR-R in the 2020 British Superbike Championship.
Andrew has been retained by the team for a second season after showing his potential this year, when he clinched his maiden race victory at Thruxton and challenged for the Showdown.
It was only his first full season in the championship after he left his World Supersport rider in 2018 to take up an offer to ride alongside Glenn as a replacement for the injured Shane Byrne in Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team.
The 25-year-old told the News Letter: “If I was to sum up 2019, it was a learning year in every single way. I won my first race and I have two podiums to my name and a pole position, but I haven’t made the Showdown yet.
“I said before this year began that I wanted to battle for the Showdown: I didn’t make the Showdown, but I did battle for it. Next year, I want to be in the Showdown.
“I had a few ups and downs this year but I’ve taken them on the chin and I’ve moved on; I’ve learned from these experiences but I’ve learned a lot and there are plenty of things that I can use as motivation going forward into 2020,” Irwin added.
“To win a BSB race in my first full season is a good achievement and I wasn’t gifted the win. It was a special race and to beat the Ducati riders was special as well because they showed how strong the package was this year with Scott (Redding) and Josh (Brookes) finishing one-two in the championship.”
Irwin is also excited by Honda’s all-new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP2 and is confident the package will be strong from the get-go.
“Honda has a brand new bike next season and we’re going to have to work hard in pre-season to make it as competitive as it can be for the first round, but I feel like we will have a bike that will be strong from the off,” he said.
“It will be the first time that I’ve done a full season with a team and stayed with them for a second year, so that will help me because I know how Honda works and I know what they expect from me.
“It’s such a professional team and everyone is pulling in the same direction: they want to be winning and I need to be sure that I’m in the top six week in, week out and also challenging at the front as much as I can.”
His older brother Glenn had big aspirations of winning the BSB title in 2019 after joining reigning champions JG Speedfit Kawasaki, but things did not go according to plan with the ZX-10RR and Irwin parted company from the team.
He joined Tyco BMW after Keith Farmer was ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, but Irwin and the TAS Racing squad split after only four rounds.
Now, he is aiming to put a trying year behind him and make amends in style in 2020.
“It’s very special to be joining Honda and it was an easy decision for me in the end,” said the 29-year-old, who will also compete at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
“They have a brand new bike out for 2020, which is really exciting, and I think everyone probably dreams of riding for the Honda Racing team at some point.
“I’ve wanted to do the TT for some time and in no way have I stepped forward to make my debut next year because things did not turn out how I had hoped this year in BSB. I set myself a goal at the beginning of the year to be fighting for the title and for one reason and another, things didn’t work out,” he added.
“But I showed at the end of the season when I rode for another team for four rounds that I was still competitive and could run at the sharp end.
“That really gave me a lift and now I’m ready for a new challenge next year.”
Davey Todd, who joins Glenn in the international roads line-up, and Tom Neave will also compete in the Superstock 1000 Championship.