Glenn Irwin eager to conjure up more magic at NW200
On the day that the dates for the 2018 North West 200 race week were announced, it was also revealed that Paul Bird Motorsport Be Wiser Ducati British Superbike rider Glenn Irwin will return to the Triangle having recently re-signed with the team for a third season.
Race week will take place from May 13-19 with the main race day on the Saturday, and the news of Irwin's return is a major boost for the event.
Who could forget the incredible race back in May when Irwin, on his Superbike debut at the North West, beat established stars Alastair Seeley and Ian Hutchinson to the chequered flag - half a second covered them at the finish - thrilling the mass of fans lining the 8.9-mile circuit in arguably one of the best races ever seen at the event?
"I'm really looking forward to coming back to the North West 200 again," Irwin said.
"It has a special buzz for me because it was where I watched racing as a kid. After last year, I sort of feel that I am now the person that I used to watch and that is really cool."
The Carrickfergus rider has had a good 2017 season to date with the Bird outfit, winning at the North West and taking his first ever British Superbike victory at Silverstone despite picking up a nasty shoulder injury at Knockhill just a week after his success at the Triangle.
On the thrilling race on the north coast, the 27-year-old recalled: "It was like a football match on the last lap with the crowd getting involved with programmes waving and encouraging the action on the track. You are well aware what is going on despite the intensity of the battle you are involved in.
"The reception I received doing that burn-out after the race, when my brother Andrew ran out to congratulate me, will stick in my memory for a long time.
"I am as hungry as ever to win at the North West and I know how much the team want to win again too.
"I thrive on support and I know how much I get from the Northern Ireland fans - for us, winning the North West is like winning a World Championship."
Attracting the BSB team back to the North West is a major coup for Event Director Mervyn Whyte, who said: "Paul Bird is a good friend of the North West 200 and it is great news that he will be bringing Glenn and the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team back to Portrush in 2018.
"Glenn put in an amazing performance against the rest of the world's finest road racers earlier this year which really captured the imagination of local race fans.
"Now they will have another opportunity to watch him in action next May to see if he can repeat that incredible feat."
The prospect of seeing Irwin, Seeley, Michael and William Dunlop, Bruce Anstey, Dan Kneen and other world-class exponents of the sport battling it out at the Triangle is something that will help shorten the winter months for road race fans around the world.