Honda Racing has signed Andrew Irwin as its first rider for its 2019 Bennetts British Superbike championship attack, while Tom Neave joins its National Superstock 1000 line-up.

Irwin caught the eye joining older brother Glenn at Be Wiser Ducati filling in for the injured Shane Byrne this year which culminated in his best result of the year of fourth place at the final round at Brands Hatch.

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Irwin has been duly handed a shot with the factory-supported Honda BSB squad for 2019 with a second rider to be announced in the coming weeks.

Despite less than a full season under his belt, Irwin feels targeting the BSB Showdown place is a realistic goal for 2019 having seen the Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2 reach the top six title fighting places last year.

“Honda has such a pedigree and most of the top riders in the world have ridden for them at some point in their careers,” Irwin said. “To be part of that racing history and heritage really excites me.

“This year was my first year in Superbike and was a huge learning curve. Towards the end of the season I found my way and felt it was all coming together, so now with Harv [Havier Beltran, team boss] and the team I will be aiming for the Showdown, which I believe is a realistic target.

“We will have a full season and also a test programme, which I didn’t have this year and I was still competitive, so we’ll be aiming for the front and I see no reason why we can’t be up there.”

Honda also confirmed both Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot will leave the team this year, with the Australian ending an 11-year partnership with the Japanese manufacturer stretching back to his Honda Australia links while Linfoot calls time on a four-year collaboration.

O’Halloran is tipped to be joining the McAMS Yamaha squad for 2019, while Linfoot has recently been linked with the TAG Racing-run Anvil Hire Yamaha team.

Honda confirmed it will also support Will Lathrope in BSB support series the Junior Supersport 300 class in 2019.

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