Belfast Telegraph

Super Andy pulls a Kwacker new deal

By Paul Lindsay

Carrick’s Andrew Irwin has secured his seat for a second successive season with British Supersport team Gearlink Kawasaki – despite former champions Alastair Seeley and Stuart Easton both having shown interest in joining the official Kawasaki team for 2017.

Young Irwin, brother of Ducati British Superbike star Glenn, finished off the 2016 season in style, with a double at the Sunflower in the middleweight division. This has inspired him to kick-on and target the British Supersport title in 2017 with Michael and Norma de Bidaph’s team.

“I signed the deal just last week during Motorcycle Live at the NEC,” said the 22-year-old. “I had pretty much secured a verbal agreement from Michael and Norma as far back as Cadwell Park in August and they were good to their word, so I’m delighted to be back on the bikes in 2017.”

Articulate and affable off the track, Irwin is one rider who can flick the switch when the lights go out on track and his commitment and bravery doesn’t go unnoticed.

Laughing he said: “I see that as a strong point as I can switch it on right from the word go, and that only comes when you have confidence in the package, which is something I have got in the Gearlink Kawasaki.”

Happy to be self critical, Irwin, who jumped from the Appleyard Yamaha team mid-season in 2016, openly offered: “I know where I need to improve and I also know where I need to smooth it all out for 2017, as I’ll openly admit I’m very aggressive on the throttle.”

Reflecting on the 2016 season, where he eventually finished 10th in the championship standings, narrowly missing out on podiums on a couple of occasions, Irwin (below) said: “The Sunflower really helped my confidence, as to beat David Allingham at Bishopscourt, who was a regular front-runner in British Supersport this year, proves I have the pace.

“Of course any rider’s goal is to win a championship, but for me it’s all going to be about working hard to find the consistency that will allow me to challenge at the front, and hopefully win races and score regular podiums.”

Irwin could potentially be the first rider to win a Supersport title for Gearlink. “The team has been so unlucky over the years,” said Irwin. “Ben Wilson should have won it the year he lost out to Alastair Seeley, and then when Alastair looked to have it won, he was robbed by a red flag on the final day, and the Gearlink team lost out again.

“So, yes, it would be nice to win it, as it’s something my brother didn’t get to do with the team either,” said Andrew of his big brother Glenn, who has just finished a phenomenal debut season in the British Superbike Championship – capping it off with the coveted Sunflower Trophy.

“For me Glenn is a great role model,” said Andrew. “He is probably one of the fittest guy in the British Superbikes paddock and I know the effort he puts in. That’s something I aim to do this year also. He’s very supportive and a great help.”

Irwin’s team-mate at Gearlink in 2017 will be Ben Currie, another talented youngster who had two wins this season.

Belfast Telegraph

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