Northern Ireland’s Glenn Irwin has been confirmed as Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s team-mate in the Paul Bird Motorsport team for 2016, when the pair will ride factory-backed Ducati machinery in the MCE British Superbike Championship.
As revealed in the News Letter on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Carrick rider will make the step up to the high-profile series after two seasons in the British Supersport class with Gearlink Kawasaki.
Cumbrian entrepreneur Bird’s team will be backed by Be Wiser Insurance and Irwin and Byrne will compete on top-spec Ducati Panigale R machines.
Following this weekend’s final British championship round at Brands Hatch, both riders will test their new bikes at Valencia in Spain, kicking off their preparations for 2016 in earnest prior to an extensive winter programme.
Team owner Bird said he had been keeping a watchful eye on Irwin for some time and hailed the bubbly Ulsterman as a ‘huge talent’.
“2016 will be our 21st consecutive year in racing and we are the first team to confirm our line-up for next season, which demonstrates our intention of challenging for the MCE BSB championship,” Bird said.
“In Shakey we have the most successful rider in the history of the series and we know he’ll be very competitive. Glenn is a rider I’ve had my eye on for a while and is a huge talent so now is the time to step up to a Superbike and I’ve every confidence in his ability.
“It’s fantastic to have a reputable company like Be Wiser Insurance as our title sponsor as the brand fits perfectly with our team and it’s a long-term association like most of our sponsors in the past,” he added.
“It’s also great to be back working with the Ducati factory, which will see us reunited with the brand which gave us most of our early successes.
“It’s an honour to be entrusted to deliver the results as a factory-backed team, which we aim to do. We are pleased to also welcome Hager back as sponsors for 2016 too.”