Andrew Irwin’s return to Honda is picking up pace after he concluded the Bennetts British Superbike test at Navarra fifth overall.
Having replaced elder brother and 2022 BSB Championship runner up, Glenn, at the Louth-based squad for the coming season, there’s a lot of pressure for Irwin to perform after two years away.
With two CRB1000RR Fireblades at his disposal - after teammate Tom Neave suffered a broken collarbone during the previous private test - the 28-year-old kept his Honda UK team suitably busy as he back-to-backed a number of set up changes across the latest three days.
“Nine and a half days of riding is a lot,” Irwin admitted after calling time on the official test at Monday lunchtime. “A lot for the brain to take, I think as much as anything and to be honest, it’s been really good. We’ve made a big step forward. I’m back working with my crew chief from 2019, ‘Spider’.
“Being back on the Honda, it’s no secret that I missed being here. I miss this feeling of the bike and how the team works and it’s just great. I feel happy.
“There’s quite a big difference,” he explained of the two available Fireblades. “We actually changed my ‘number one bike’, quite a lot last night, pretty much to how Glenn rode the bike in 2022. Just to make sure that we went the right direction with where we have in the past couple of weeks that we’ve been out in Spain. That confirmed that we’re going the right way, different swingarm, different engine, some different bracing in the back, just a few different bits and pieces really. The other bike is a full ’23-spec bike - ’23 swingarm, ’23 engine, ’23 everything - and it’s the bike that I prefer, it’s the bike that I’ve been fastest on. This morning I went out on new tyres on one bike, new tyres on the other and I was faster on my ’23 bike.
“We’ve ended here quite strong, we’re not too far away,” he continued. “There’s a big step to Kyle [Ryde] but second isn’t that far away so let’s keep working. We’re going into the UK tests healthy and that was my main priority. To get there, be in one piece, we’ve had no crashes here, which is a step and I don’t think we’re too far away.
“Definitely the Yamaha has a little bit of something, especially with Kyle, he’s been really fast to be fair to him and we need to work on closing that gap but we’ve another four days in Donington and Silverstone - two tracks that have been quite kind to me in the past. So I go there with good feelings and with an open mind of how we’re gonna get on. We’re not expecting too much but let’s end the test in the UK strong.”