Carrick’s Glenn Irwin says his new deal with the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team will give him fresh impetus for next year’s Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Irwin will leave Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati squad after three successive seasons to replace Leon Haslam, who will team up with Jonathan Rea in the factory World Superbike Kawasaki team in 2019.
The news comes following speculation that MotoGP rider Scott Redding will make the switch to BSB next year to spearhead Bird’s outfit.
Earlier in the summer, the PBM team announced an agreement with Irwin for a fourth season in 2019. The 28-year-old stressed that option remained open, despite recent uncertainty over his future.
However, Irwin says he informed Bird of his desire to open talks with other teams at Oulton Park and confirmation followed on Wednesday that he will take over from BSB championship leader Haslam next season.
“It’s definitely a deal that has surprised people and I did have the option to stay at PBM, but I think sometimes change is good. Sometimes the man who takes the chance is the man who gets the prize,” Irwin told the News Letter.
“I told the team at Oulton Park that I wished to speak to other teams and I gave PBM the first decision. My relationship with Paul (Bird) is really good despite what the tabloids and social media say. I get on really good with him and it was important to me to keep that because racing is a short career and although I am leaving, we are parting on fantastic terms.
“I’ve worked with Kawasaki before and I enjoyed working with them in British Supersport. There is so much enthusiasm from Kawasaki and from the team about this deal, and maybe it has kick-started a wee fire that needed to burn a bit more strongly,” he added.
“I’m very, very excited about where I am going now and I do believe you will see the best that I can do.”
Irwin will benefit from direct factory support in the JG Speedfit Kawasaki outfit, which has close links with the Kawasaki Racing World Superbike team – a factor that was a key element in his decision.
“The JG Speedfit team will retain factory support from KRT next year and that is key. I believe that Leon’s (Haslam) entire crew are staying as well, so it’s a fantastic chance for me,” said Irwin.
“It’s my first factory contract as well – I’m contracted to Kawasaki rather than the actual team as such – so that is something that is really pleasing and I’m feeling so motivated.”
Haslam’s move to World Superbikes has also inspired Irwin, who admits it would be a ‘dream’ to compete in the series one day.
“Nothing has been put down on paper but it has been verbally discussed and Leon is going from BSB to World Superbikes next season, so it shows that if you do a good job, then something else might come out of it,” he said.
“It would be a dream to go to World Superbikes and especially with a team like KRT; it would be amazing – certainly if Johnny (Rea) is still hanging around! At the same time, that is something that could be a long way away and my only focus now is to continue doing as strong a job as possible until the end of this season.”
His younger brother Andrew remains in the mix to retain his seat in the PBM Ducati team in 2019 after impressing during his rookie season in BSB. The 23-year-old was called into the team as a replacement for injury-victim Shane Byrne.