Irwin is aiming to shine on world stage after inking deal to race for Honda in 2018
Carrickfergus ace Andrew Irwin has reached an agreement with the Louth-based CIA Landlord Insurance Honda team to ride in the 2018 World Supersport Championship, it was announced yesterday.
The 23-year-old was runner-up in the 2017 British Supersport Championship while riding for Gearlink Kawasaki.
He took the title fight right down to the last race of the season at Brands Hatch, where he ended the year on a high by taking his maiden victory in the class.
Irwin said: "I'm really excited to join the CIA Landlord Insurance team in World Supersport.
"For me it is the perfect step up from a very competitive British series to an even bigger challenge on the world stage.
"I believe with the experience of the team I can do a good job and I cannot wait to start testing.
"I would like to thank Simon (Buckmaster) and his team along with my personal sponsors MET Healthcare, John Jamieson Construction and Aquarius Couriers for this fantastic opportunity."
Team manager Buckmaster said: "I'm happy to announce our first signing for 2018.
"Andrew has shown tremendous promise as runner-up in the British series and to move up to the World Championship is the next step - the way it should be, and we are proud to be able to offer him this opportunity.
"We are a British team and although we didn't have a British rider this year, which is unusual for us, we are excited to have a promising British rider on board for next year.
"We will test with Andrew in Europe and then in Australia to start the season.
"I'm sure he will take it step by step and improve with each race."
The CIA Landlord Insurance team finished fourth in the 2017 World Championship with French rider Jules Cluzel, so this is a timely break for the youngest of the three racing Irwin brothers from east Antrim.
Andrew's brother Graeme, the British MX1 king, is also heading to the world stage in 2018 with Hitachi KTM in the MXGP class, while other sibling Glenn is currently in the Far East to contest the Macau Grand Prix on Saturday morning for the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team.