I've fire in my belly ahead of British Superbike title tilt, blasts Glenn Irwin
When the lights go out on round one of the 2019 British Superbike Championship at Silverstone this weekend expectations are high for a number of Irish riders and teams, not only in the main Superbike series but also in the supporting classes.
Glenn Irwin has big boots to fill - replacing current Superbike champion Leon Haslam - his brother Andrew joins Honda Racing in what will be his first full season in the class, Tyco BMW have current Superstock champion Keith Farmer moving up to Superbikes alongside Christian Iddon, Josh Elliott continues with the OMG Suzuki squad and David Allingham debuts in Superbikes with the EHA Yamaha squad.
Glenn Irwin is one of the championship favourites having joined the reigning title winning Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki outfit after a fine third position last year plus a win at the final round with the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team and is ready to kick off the season in style.
The Carrickfergus man said: "I feel really revved up for the weekend. Pre-season testing is done. The team have done a great job after the Silverstone test and we have a clear direction of what comes next.
"I have fire in my belly and as a team we are ready to come out fighting this weekend.
"Being in the championship winning team from last year doesn't put any more pressure on me - I think that is more on the riders who have stayed with the same teams."
His main rivals could well be ex-Grand Prix rider Scott Redding, making his BSB debut on the all-new PBM Be Wiser Ducati, and his team-mate Josh Brookes, 2018 World SBK Independent Riders champion Xavi Fores on the Honda Racing Fireblade, Jason O'Halloran and Tarran Mackenzie on the McAms Yamahas.
Andrew Irwin, on his Honda debut, is chasing top six finishes and a showdown position at the end of the year as are Tyco BMW who would dearly love to be on a BSB podium this weekend despite their machines arriving late.
One contest many are looking forward to this season is the battle in Supersport between defending champion Jack Kennedy and past champion Alastair Seeley, both R6 Yamaha mounted for different teams, Appleyard Integro and EHA. The pair have been arch rivals since they started racing on the Irish circuits and both have a similar goal - to win the British Supersport Championship, which should make for highly entertaining no holds barred action.
Lee Johnston returns to BSS ahead of his road racing commitments while Richard Kerr, Eugene McManus (GP2) and Ross Patterson will be looking for top 10 finishes.
Graeme Irwin (Team #109 Kawasaki) makes his debut in the British Superstock 1000 Championship while fellow team members Eunan McGlinchey - the current British Junior Supersport champion - moves to Superstock 600 and James McManus and Curtis Trimble are in Junior Supersport. Others to keep an eye on are Korie McGreevy in Superstock 600 and Paul Jordan in Superstock 1000.
Practice begins at 9am this morning with the British Talent Cup in which 14-year-old Jamie Lyons, 17-year-old Rhys Irwin and 16-year-old Scott Swann are the Irish representatives.