You have to go back to 2013 for the last time Honda Racing won the British Superbike Championship, and that was with Alex Lowes. Understandably It’s a long overdue statistic Honda would like to see rewritten at the completion of 2019!
And tasked with attempting to restore Honda’s place at the top are two new riders for this year - Andrew Irwin and Xavi Fores. Both will be riding Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines, whilst the vastly experienced Havier Beltran continues as team manager for the Louth, Lincolnshire based squad. The younger of two racing brothers from Carrickfergus, East Antrim, NI., Andrew Irwin got the Honda seat after a promising debut season on Superbikes last term. In fact, he started the year in World Supersports before coming home to race a V twin Ducati in BSB as sub for the injured Shane Byrne! Best results being a fourth at Oulton Park & again at the final round at Brands Hatch.
Andrew’s initial target is to make it into the Showdown phase. His team mate is Spanish national, Xavi Fores. The 33 year old from Valencia is hugely experienced which including rides in World Supersport, World Superbike, Moto2 GP, along with a wild card or two in Moto GP. He comes to these shores after racing a V twin Ducati for the Barni Racing Team in WSBK for the past three years. Finishing 9th overall in 2016, and 7th overall in 2017 & ‘18. Best finishes last year were seconds in Thailand & Argentina with thirds at Philip Island, Aragon & Magny Cours – should make interesting viewing for spectators to see how he adapts to the challenge of the British short circuits! Honda Racing also make a welcome return to the national Superstock 1000 Championship this year, with Tom Neave (who appeared for the team last year on the Superbike as a temporary sub for injured Jason O’Halloran), and are also supporting Will Lathrope in the British Junior Supersports.