Glenn Irwin: 'The right time and the right team' to make IOM TT debut in 2020

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
Glenn Irwin secured a fourth successive Superbike win at the North West 200 in May
Glenn Irwin secured a fourth successive Superbike win at the North West 200 in May

Glenn Irwin says he has decided to make his Isle of Man TT debut in 2020 because "the time is right, the team is right and the circumstances are right".

Irwin will compete for Honda Racing at the TT, North West 200 and as team-mate to younger brother Andrew in next year's British Superbike Championship.

"I've always been highly interested in the TT and now everything has come together for me," explained Irwin.

"I feel I've matured a lot and I like how Honda are going to go about it."

Honda team 'natural choice'

The 29-year-old has been a regular visitor to the TT in recent years and completed a parade lap of the Mountain Course at the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling in August.

"I've had to learn the TT circuit as, having grown up in Northern Ireland, I don't know it in the same way as I know the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix courses which I have been round so many times since I was a child," outlined Irwin.

"What impressed me about what the Honda team had to offer was a vision and a plan. They made it clear that there was no expectation of getting a big result in year one or chasing newcomer lap records. It was the obvious choice.

"I'm going there to enjoy riding - when you go road racing you have to be comfortable in your surroundings and know the bike you are going to ride so I believe this is the right deal for me at this stage of my career."

Help from two top TT riders

The Carrickfergus rider has not been to the Isle of Man since August but has received offers of help from two leading road racers as he continues the process of learning the daunting 37.73-mile course.

"I'm going from Sunday until Tuesday and the plan is to spend two days a week there for the foreseeable future as long as it doesn't get in the way of any pre-season commitments for BSB.

"I've been watching about four onboards every day and I can now do a lap of the track and tell what's coming next. I know whether to go left or right, whether it's a fast corner or a slow corner.

"That part of it is 90% done but now I have to understand a little better what is coming next at speed and Conor Cummins has offered to show me round and Peter Hickman has also been in touch.

"Peter contacted me to say that any time we are on the island together we'll spin some laps so I'll tap into the advice that everyone gives me and if one day I can do half as good a job as what Conor and Pete have done I'll be a happy man."

Brother as team-mate will boost bike development

Irwin finished third in the 2018 British Superbike series but endured a difficult 2019 campaign on the circuits, first parting company with his JG Speedfit Kawasaki team and then splitting with the Tyco BMW outfit.

Next season he will be on board a brand new version of the Honda Fireblade and expects that having his brother as his team-mate in BSB will help with the development of the machine.

"The dynamic will be strong - it's important to have a fast team-mate and that's what Andrew is. Hopefully we will help the bike become a strong package in a short space of time.

"Although you respect every rider you are up against there can sometimes be some tension between team rivals so to maximise the potential of the Fireblade it's important that the two team-mates work together.

"The thing with me and Andrew is we are very honest with each other - we certainly want to beat each other and the rivalry is fierce but we train together and we are best mates.

"Performing well on the roads can help you on the short circuits and vice-versa. Honda have all the professionalism and experience you want from a team and they have gone away and produced what looks like a bike with a lot of potential."

Glenn Irwin
A fourth North West 200 win was the highlight of Glenn Irwin's 2019 season

More North West wins a target

Glenn has won the last four Superbike races at the North West 200 international road race and aims to extend that record when he takes in next year's event over the Triangle circuit.

"The North West is a meeting I have enjoyed a lot of success at - it's a very special place and I look forward to going there.

"It's the first race I will go to with the new Fireblade and it's very different from the TT in the sense that I have a target on my back. I will go there trying to achieve what I have done in the last few years but the opposition is strong.

"I'll do the best job I can and you never know, it might be enough to put me on the top step again.

"The North West is more about getting results while the TT is more about going and enjoying riding the new Fireblade.

"The buzz I get from the roads, whether I win or not, I believe I can carry that enjoyment and fun factor into BSB to help me get some strong results."

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