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Franco Bourne bags Honda Racing BSB call up

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Franco Bourne has landed the ride of a lifetime after being called up to the Honda Racing UK squad to replace the stricken Andrew Irwin, who is currently on the side-lines after breaking his humerus in a private testing crash at Knockhill.

Bourne has been given the chance to replace Irwin after shining bright in his first full season in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship, taking victory at the first round of the series at Silverstone, after securing a stunning second place in his opening race onboard the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.

The Northumberland based teenager has been a somewhat unknown entity in his short career, but after winning the British Talent Cup in 2020, and then finishing runner up in the Pirelli Junior Superstock Championship in 2022, he made the jump to the fully blown thousand class for 2023. But nobody expected him to launch himself to fame so early on.

Irwin looks set to be on the side-lines for a number of months as he recovers from the injury, and BikeSocial understands that Bourne will occupy the seat on a round by round basis and won’t continue in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship during this time.


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“I hope that Andrew is ok, I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery,” Franco said. “I have to say when this chance came about, I was obviously disappointed with what had happened to Andrew, but I was extremely happy to take the opportunity to jump onto such a good bike with a team as established as Honda Racing. 

“I’ve known Harv for over ten years, since my first introduction to riding on tarmac through the Bikewise initiative, and I want to thank him for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

“I came onto the Honda Fireblade in Superstock off the back of riding a bike that I really struggled with, so the adaptation has been great. I gelled with it as a bike immediately even though everything was so new, the chassis, the brakes, the power and the slick tyres. But it’s a bike that I adapted to very quickly. I think this will stand me in good stead with racing the Superbike.

“We had a small shakedown test, to adjust the riding position and give me a quick feel of things. I think the fact that riding a Superstock is so new, it will help me to adapt again as the Superbike just does everything that the Superstock bike does, but it does it that little bit better. I know there is a lot of learning to do, the bike is definitely more physical to ride too and I didn't push too much, so I’m excited to see what we can do. I come away from that small test with loads more positives than negatives.

“I want to thank Matthew Bainbridge, Pete Boast and all of the team at Marvel HCL Motorsport for getting me to where I am today, and for allowing me to grab this opportunity with both hands.”



Team Manager Havier Beltran added: “Firstly, I want to wish Andrew a continued speedy recovery and we look forward to welcoming his return to racing in due course when he is fully fit and ready to race. In his short absence, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Franco into the team. I have kept an eye on Franco for many years and I have been impressed by his natural talent since our first introduction back in 2012 through the Bikewise initiative. Watching his progression year after year has been fantastic to witness and I am excited to see what he can achieve riding our Superbike.

I would also like to thank Franco’s current team manager Matt Bainbridge and all of the team at Marvel HCL Motorsport for helping to facilitate this opportunity. I look forward to seeing Franco showcase his potential and continue his development.

Franco will get his first taste of Bennetts BSB action at Snetterton for round five of the 2023 season on July 7-9.


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