Northern Ireland's Ian Lowry has a gilt-edged chance to put himself firmly back on the British Superbike map after penning a deal to ride for Clive Padgett's Honda squad this season.

Lowry will be joined in the team by former World Superbike and Supersport rider Luca Scassa as the Moira man bids to kick-start his faltering career in the wake of two largely unsuccessful and trying years in the sport.

But now the former British Supersport Championship runner-up has a new lease of life after switching to the Padgetts Racing team - a British motorcycling institution - with Italian ace Scassa as his team-mate.

Lowry, the top rookie in the British Superbike Championship when he finished fifth on the TAS Suzuki in 2009, is desperate to seize his chance and prove that he can run at the top level in British Superbikes.

"The team is phenomenal and this gives me a chance to show my true colours - I'm over the moon with the deal," Lowry said. "Clive [Padgett] needs no introduction - he has something like 28 British championships under his belt and countless TT wins and what he doesn't know about those Hondas isn't worth knowing.

"He is really enthusiastic and is looking forward to the challenge of being back in British Superbikes because he hasn't been in the class for a few years now."

After a miserable 2010 season, Lowry endured another torrid campaign last year as he struggled to make an impact on the Buildbase BMW S1000RR.

The breaking point came at the ninth round of the championship at Cadwell Park after his engine blew during free practice. Lowry left the circuit and returned home as his association with the Buildbase team reached a conclusion.

He joined Nick Morgan's MSS Kawasaki team for the final three rounds of the series, but Lowry's bad luck continued as he failed to finish three of the seven races, ending a frustrating season languishing in 22nd position overall.

"Last year was a bit touch and go to be honest," he said. "It was probably the lowest time of my whole career and I didn't know if I was going to be able to recover from it.

"But now that I've got this opportunity things are looking up for me. You don't just lose your form overnight and all credit to Clive [Padgett] for giving me the chance and hopefully I can repay him with some good results this year."

Surprisingly, Lowry has never ridden a Honda before but he is bullish when assessing the potential of the CBR1000RR Fireblade.

"The Honda is probably the only bike I haven't ridden over the years but it's a proven package in BSB; I think the engine characteristics suit a lot of the tracks in BSB and the chassis will lend itself very favourably this year because of the new rules with no traction control or rider aids, so it's going to come down to how good your chassis is," he said.

"In my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people out there, the Honda chassis is probably going to be the best there is this year."

The 2012 BSB series is shaping up to be one of the most exciting for years with the news that World Superbike legend Noriyuki Haga has replaced the injured Ian Hutchinson in the Swan Yamaha team.

Lowry's team-mate Scassa also has a world class pedigree, finishing fifth in the World Supersport Championship in 2011 for Yamaha following two consecutive years in World Superbikes, and the upbeat Ulster rider can't hide his excitement over the forthcoming season.

"There's such a strong field this year, stronger than it's ever been," he said."Scassa is a fantastic rider and brings a lot to the table and is very fast.

"Nori Haga is in BSB on a proven bike and I think he'll be phenomenal from the word go and both will be assets to the championship. It's a tough year to be trying to make your mark but if you want to succeed this is probably the best year to do it with the quality of the riders out there."