Andrew Irwin is determined to build on his proven race-winning track record in British Superbikes to challenge in the all-important Showdown this year. The Carrick man joined Northern Ireland’s TAS Racing team alongside Englishman Danny Buchan in a new-look line-up for 2021 to ride the much-vaunted SYNETIQ BMW M1000RR.
Irwin claimed three race wins in 2020, more than anyone else other than eventual champion Josh Brookes, who won five times, and runner-up Jason O’Halloran, also with three wins.
However, the 26-year-old was ruled out of a title challenge after a number of controversial incidents hampered his chances, including disqualification from second place in race three at Donington Park following an incident with Aussie Brookes.
Irwin, though, is looking to the future and a fresh challenge this year on the new BMW Superbike, when his key objective is to secure his place in the eight-rider Showdown at the business end of the season.
The first round of the championship takes place this weekend at Oulton Park in Cheshire.Irwin told the News Letter: “I think I proved last year how competitive we can be and I’ve won more races in the championship in the past couple of years other than Josh, so I think that’s something I can take confidence from.
“It may only be four race wins in two years, but it’s still more than most of the others.
“I feel like I can be consistent now and last year I think I had four DNFs: one was the incident with Josh Brookes, which I didn’t think I deserved, the other was the incident with Ryan Vickers – take that one whichever way you want – and then I had two more; one with (Alex) Olsen when he came back across me from running wide and the other was when I got taken out by (Ryan) Vickers.
“So aside from that, I think I was pretty consistent and this year it’s going to be important to settle for what you can get at times rather than pushing over 100 per-cent, which could cost you and be the difference in making the Showdown or not,” he added.
“I’d rather keep the reins in and control things from that aspect as well.
“I feel like I’m employed to do a job and if I’m not in the Showdown then it’ll be a very disappointing season.”
Irwin also has an extra drive to succeed with the Moneymore-based TAS Racing team following his move to the Philip Neill-run squad after two years with Honda Racing
“I feel that I have grown a lot with the team and I have really good people behind me in SYNETIQ BMW and I’m in the best position that I’ve ever been in,” he said.
“I’ve a manager in Philip Neill who understands racing – he’s raced himself in motocross in the past – and he knows what it takes to win championships. I feel that with his guidance, it’s going to be a big help for the season.
“Everything seems to be a positive with the BMW, there’s nothing really that makes you think ‘I don’t like how this works’.
“It’s a process of adapting to the bike and I’m not going to round one to win races, although of course the goal is always to win, but we’re going to Oulton with the aim of improving the package and getting three, good points-scoring finishes.”
Saturday’s first race of the triple-header weekend is scheduled for 4.15pm.
On Sunday, race two is at 1.45pm with the final race at 4.45pm.