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Irwin out to end year on a high after new Ducati deal



Out in front: Glenn Irwin on his way to victory at the North West 200 in May

Out in front: Glenn Irwin on his way to victory at the North West 200 in May

Out in front: Glenn Irwin on his way to victory at the North West 200 in May

Glenn Irwin has re-signed for the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team to compete in the 2018 British Superbike Championship alongside Shayne Byrne in what is an unchanged line up.

"I had a few offers on the table, but all I wanted was to stay with PBM (Paul Bird Motorsport)," said a delighted Iriwn.

"Paul has been good to me this year, especially through the tough couple of months with the injury I picked up at Knockhill.

"I had plenty of support from the team and no pressure even though my results were pretty horrific. It's nice to have things sorted so early for next season, now it's time to concentrate on the final seven races in this year's BSB series."

Both Irwin and Byrne will continue aboard the factory-backed Ducati Panigale R machines with Be Wiser Insurance still the team's principal sponsor and with the same people alongside the riders in both sides of the garage.

Team owner Bird said: "Glenn has shown what a talent he is and has had a great season with us despite his injuries.

"We are also honouring our two-year deal with Shakey and we wanted to be the first team to commit to the series for 2018 to continue with the great team we have.

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Irwin claimed his first BSB victory last weekend at Silverstone and earlier in the season scored a memorable maiden Superbike victory at the North West 200 after an epic battle with Tyco BMW pair Alastair Seeley and Ian Hutchinson.

Although there was no talk yesterday about the 2018 North West 200, it would be fair to assume that given the success and profile Irwin and the team had at the Triangle, they will once again be on the grid come May.

Long before that Irwin will complete the final three rounds of the BSB series and then possibly head to Bishopscourt to defend his Sunflower Trophy title before heading to the Macau Grand Prix where he unfortunately retired from third position in the closing stages of the race last November.

Yesterday Irwin finished 13th in free practice for tomorrow's BSB races at Oulton Park, just two places behind his five-time BSB champion team mate Byrne, as Josh Brookes headed Jake Dixon and Tyco BMW's Christian Iddon after the first salvo's were fired in the Title Showdown. Keith Farmer topped the Supersport practice three quarters of a second ahead of Alastair Seeley on the non-points scoring Team Quattro Spirit development Moto2 machine.

Andrew Irwin, David Allingham and Jack Kennedy completed the provisional front five on the grid ahead of today's qualifying and opening sprint race.

Randalstown's Eugene McManus was second fastest in Motostar with Donegal rider Richard Kerr in seventh while Josh Elliott was fifth fastest in Superstock 1000.

Further afield a rapid Johnathan Rea set the fastest time of the day on his last flying lap during opening practice sessions for the 10th round of the World Superbike Championship at Portimao in Portugal.

On the bumpy track Rea finished half a second clear of Ducati's Marco Melandri, who had Chaz Davies, Leon Camier, Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes within half a second of him in third to sixth positions.

Rea leads the championship by 70 points from his Kawasaki team-mate Sykes ahead of today's final qualifying and opening race.

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