Glenn Irwin will sensationally return to the PBM Ducati team for the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship after penning a one-year-deal with the eight-time Champions, linking up with Tommy Bridewell aboard the all-new, factory backed, Ducati Panigale V4.
The Northern-Irishman leaves Honda Racing after three years with the Louth factory, taking five victories in 2022 and finishing runner-up to Bradley Ray in the overall Championship standings. He’ll now team back up with the Cumbrian based squad that gave him his first chance in the Superbike class back in 2016.
Although he is no stranger to the Italian manufacturer, taking two Bennetts BSB victories, a hatful of podiums as well as victories at the North West 200 and the Macau Grand Prix onboard the old v-twin Panigale.
The 32-year-old will have the opportunity to develop the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 which the team will have at their disposal for 2023, but after his success with the 2020 and 2022 Honda Fireblades, you wouldn’t bet against Irwin getting the Ducati firing on all cylinders before the season starts.
“Re-joining PBM after four years apart is something I’m relishing as I feel I’ve improved as a rider and as a person during that time,” said Irwin.
“The experience away has taught me a lot and to be coming back to the most successful team in the paddock is a fantastic opportunity. I’m in a stronger position now and we both know how each other works so the timing is perfect. I want to win, and Birdy wants to win and with Tommy as a very strong teammate, it will drive us all on. I’ve proved I can challenge for the title this year, so the plan is to go one better next season.”
2022 wasn’t the year anybody expected from the eight-time Champions, with just two victories achieved from Tom Sykes at the penultimate round of the season, both PBM Ducati riders failed to make the showdown, for the first time in their BSB careers.
But Bird now believes he has a strong line up to challenge for his ninth Bennetts BSB title, after securing the second and third place riders in the 2022 Championship standings.
“With Glenn joining Tommy, I think we have an unbelievable line up for 2023 with the riders that finished second and third in this year’s championship,” added Bird.
“It’s great to have Glenn back as we have had a lot of success together in the past and he’s probably left what I would regard as one of the best, if not the best, team in the paddock to come to us. After a disappointing season for PBM, it will be good to be back at the sharp end.”
Does this new deal mean we’ll see him roar down Bray Hill to crack the 130mph barrier around the Mountain Course after a successful debut year, where he achieved the fastest ever newcomer title. Well, sadly it looks unlikely, as the teams’ official press release states they ‘have no plans to contest the 2023 event.’ However, it says nothing about the North West 200, so we might see Irwin defend his title around the ‘Triangle.’
The 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship will get underway on April 7 at the Silverstone National Circuit. Click here for the full calendar for all the dates.