Carrick’s Andrew Irwin has joined Honda UK for the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Irwin made his BSB debut this year with Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team, replacing the injured Shane Byrne.
A second rider will be confirmed by Honda in the coming weeks.
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.”
Honda Racing team manager Havier Beltran added: “Firstly I would like to thank Dan (Linfoot) and Jason (O’Halloran) 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.
“Moving into 2019 we have an exciting season ahead of us with Andrew in the Superbike class, we’re back in Superstock 1000 with Tom (Neave) and we have the CBR500R with Will (Lathrope) in the Junior Supersport class.
“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.”