Glenn Irwin says he is “honoured” to be joining forces with Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness in a new-look line-up for the Honda Racing UK team in 2022.
Irwin will finally have the opportunity to make his debut around the infamous Mountain Course next summer after the Carrickfergus man was forced to shelve his plans in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
The TT — like the North West 200 and most other road racing events — was cancelled for a second consecutive year in 2021, but British Superbike frontrunner Irwin is now counting the days until the start of the major road racing season on the north coast next May.
“I wasn’t actually aware the news was coming out but when I saw it on Twitter, it was a fantastic feeling to read that I will be riding alongside John McGuinness next year,” he said.
“It must be the same feeling you’d get as scoring a goal for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park!
“I get on very well with John and I have a huge amount of respect for him. It’s an absolute honour to be making my TT debut with Honda and to have John as my team-mate for the Superbike and Superstock races.
“A big thanks to Honda also for the opportunity,” added Irwin, who has won the last four Superbike races held at the North West. “My interest in the TT has never waned even though it’s been cancelled these past two years and it’s the same for the North West 200. I’ve said before how much I love the event and I certainly won’t be overlooking the North West for my TT debut.
“It offers the first chance to win an international Superbike race on Honda’s new Fireblade and I’m going there with the intention of grabbing that victory.”
Englishman McGuinness, meanwhile, returns to Honda after his last race for the team ended with a high-speed crash in qualifying at the NW200 in 2017.
The 23-time TT winner will be 50 by the time of next year’s TT, but McGuinness said re-joining Honda “feels right” as he prepares to make his 100th TT start in the 30th anniversary year of the iconic Fireblade.
“It’s like coming back home to the family,” said McGuinness. “It’s going to be a special year with everything going on and also just getting back to the North West 200 and the TT.”