Glenn Irwin is keeping a level head as he admits he remains ‘realistic’ as he prepares to make his MCE British Superbike Championship debut this weekend at Silverstone.
The Carrick man joined Paul Bird’s new-look Be Wiser Ducati team for 2016 to ride a factory-supported Panigale R alongside four-time BSB champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne in a dream move.
Irwin has gradually been making the transition to a full-blown Superbike machine during pre-season testing and impressed during the final official BSB outing at Donington Park at the end of March, where he finished eighth fastest and 0.8 seconds behind pacesetter Michael Laverty on the Tyco BMW.
The 26-year-old Ulsterman, who finished fourth in last year’s British Supersport Championship, said: “After Spain, it was good to get back to tracks I was familiar with and I knew I had to push on with getting to grips with the Ducati.
“It’s all about track time for me and with every lap, I was gaining in confidence and in the end, I was happy with my lap times as they came on my own, without a tow or anything.
“Shakey has been a massive help and I can’t thank him and all of the team enough,” he added.
“Now that testing is over, I’m really looking forward to starting my BSB career in earnest by getting out there and doing some racing.
“I’m absolutely buzzing for this opportunity, I have a great team around me and I’m feeling pretty good going into Silverstone.”
Irwin was victorious at Silverstone in the Supersport class in 2015 but is all too aware that he faces a much stiffer task on his Superbike bow and says his initial target on Sunday is to finish in the points.
“I won a Supersport race round there last year and finished on the podium in the other one so the track suits me, although this weekend is going to be a totally different challenge,” he said.
“The plan this weekend, first and foremost, is to score points and then to see how high up the leaderboard we can get, but it’s a case of being realistic.”
Meanwhile, Christian Iddon makes his Tyco BMW race debut alongside Laverty at Silverstone, while Josh Elliott begins the defence of his Superstock 1000 title.
Michael Dunlop is due to compete this weekend on the Buildbase BMW as he warms up for the roads, while Ian Hutchinson (Tyco BMW) and William Dunlop (MSS Kawasaki) are in action in the Superstock 1000 race.
In the Supersport series, Andy Reid is among the favourites for new team Quattro Plant Kawasaki.
Reid won his first race in the class at Oulton Park last year but crashed out in race two and missed the rest of the championship through injury.