Belfast Telegraph

Irwin excited to make BSB series a real family affair

 

New challenge: Graeme Irwin
New challenge: Graeme Irwin

By Roy Harris

Former British Motocross champion Graeme Irwin is to join brothers Glenn and Andrew in the British Superbike paddock this season.

Graeme will compete for Team 109 in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, riding a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

The 2017 Maxxis British MX1 champion has been forced to retire from the off-road side of the sport, unable to recover sufficiently from a broken scaphoid sustained in the final round of the MXGP World Championship in Italy last season.

Having reconsidered his options, Graeme - after an initial shakedown test at Knockhill - has decided that tarmac is where his future lies.

He said: "It's really strange that my motocross career is finished. Now I have a new adventure ahead. There will be zero pressure on me this season and I want to have fun racing again.

"Kawasaki have given me the opportunity to do this. I am expecting to be a little off the pace at the start of the year until I find my feet, but the aim is to keep making steady progress with every race.

"It is all new to me, the tracks, road bikes and knees down, but I can't wait to go racing for Team 109 Kawasaki at Silverstone over Easter."

Graeme has sampled tarmac racing before having taken part in the 2015 Sunflower Trophy race at Bishopscourt where he rode Wilson Craig's Honda to 15th position.

Team 109, named Team of the Year at the Cornmarket Awards in January, won the 2018 British Junior Supersport Championship with Eunan McGlinchey, and team manager Paul Tobin said: "As soon as I heard Graeme wanted to compete in the National Superstock 1000 Championship, I didn't need to think twice and had him onboard immediately.

"He had a successful career in motocross and there is no reason why he cannot be just as successful on tarmac."

With Glenn an ambassador for Team 109 and starting the season as one of the favourites for the BSB Championship with the Quattro Plant Kawasaki Team and Andrew riding in the BSB series for Honda Team Racing, it will be an interesting year for the Irwin family.

Glenn said: "Due to my relationship with Kawasaki UK and the success of the Ninja ZX-10RR, we mutually decided that Kawasaki and Team 109 Kawasaki was the best combination for Graeme to move forward.

"While I was gutted to see his MX career end, he has always been a highly talented and professional rider and we knew we had to get him on a road bike."

Meanwhile, the Junction Retail and Leisure Park will be the new sponsor of Saturday's Supersport race at the fonaCAB International North West 200 in association with Nicholl Oils.

Leona Barr, centre manager of The Junction - which is currently undergoing a £30m redevelopment - said: "With it being the North West 200's 90th anniversary we have no doubt the organisers will put on a spectacular race week.

"The week-long event always provides great entertainment for the entire family and, as a family-orientated retail park, there is a natural synergy between The Junction's customers and the North West 200's visitors."

NW200 event director Mervyn Whyte MBE said: "We are delighted to have The Junction on board.

"The North West can provide The Junction with maximum exposure during this major investment period by attracting visitors and media coverage from all over Northern Ireland and further afield."

Belfast Telegraph

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