After a long off-season, this weekend (7-9th April) the Honda Racing UK team kickstart their 2023 campaign with the opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at the 1.64-mile Silverstone National Circuit. Riders Andrew Irwin and Tom Neave will be looking to ignite their championship ambitions in the premiere superbike class, whilst road racing pairing John McGuinness MBE and Nathan Harrison will participate in the Pirelli National Superstock series, gathering precious track time ahead of both the NW200 and Isle of Man TT races.
Over the years, the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP has achieved much success at the Northamptonshire circuit, most notably securing the triple at the season opener in 2022 as well as holding the BSB best-ever lap at 52.796 seconds.
Andrew Irwin’s return to the Honda fold has proved seamless throughout preseason testing as he gelled with the motorcycle and team once more to post fast and consistent times throughout the team’s testing program across multiple circuits. When he last raced the Fireblade he finished in a career-high final championship position of sixth. He also has fond memories of Silverstone, having podiumed there in the past.
Tom Neave will be looking to use all of the experience he gained from his full rookie year in the Superbike class as he returns to the track for the first time at Silverstone since breaking his collarbone early in preseason testing. The National circuit has also been a successful track for Tom historically, with podiums and wins to his name aboard the Honda Fireblade in Superstock trim.
Meanwhile, in preparation for his road racing season, John McGuinness MBE will line up on the highly competitive Pirelli National Superstock grid aboard his Honda Fireblade as he looks to gain more valuable bike time and mileage after a busy preseason. His testing program culminated in the final official BSB test at Silverstone where he posted the 19th quickest time of the 35 Superstock bikes running.
On the other side of the road-racing garage, team newcomer Nathan Harrison will race in Honda Racing UK colours for the very first time as he too competes in the Superstock championship. Nathan spent much of the preseason Spanish tests familiarising himself with the Superbike before jumping onto the team’s Superstock bike for the damp and windy UK tests.
Track action commences on Friday 7th with the first Superbike free practice session starting at 13.00.
#18 Andrew Irwin
I am looking forward to Silverstone. It’s a track that I have some good history at and a track that the Honda has some good history at too. For sure I have some nerves coming into the first round, It’s my first race coming back with Honda so you have those nerves but I think that’s a good thing, something that if it wasn’t there would be more of a problem, so I just have to use them. I’m excited to get back into it and to get back into a race situation where we’re going to try to come away with three strong results. I think we can do a good job, the bike’s good, the team’s good and I am in a good place at the minute.
#68 Tom Neave
Although the season start wasn’t ideal due to injuring myself in testing, I am in a positive headspace. Missing the UK testing turned out not to be such a big deal due to the changeable conditions and limited running. It was wiser for me to sit the tests out and focus on getting myself and my shoulder back to full fitness. I’m coming into round 1 with an open mind and my focus is on scoring three good point-scoring results and getting my campaign in the championship off to a positive start. I am really looking forward to jumping back on my race bike and getting the ball rolling and gathering momentum from here.
#3 John McGuinness MBE
I am just excited to get going again, it’s 2023 and I’m still at it which is unbelievable really, this will be my 33rd year of racing! I’m still keen, still passionate and still excited to go racing. The testing in Spain was brilliant, it ticked all the boxes and blew away all the cobwebs which was great because the UK testing was a bit of a washout. The team has gelled well and I love working with all the guys. New colours, new bike, the start of a new season and some new teammates too! I’m really looking forward to seeing how Nathan and Andrew get on. It’s not gonna be easy for me in Superstock because it is a really really tough class and it’s super competitive, but for me it’s more about the bigger picture, getting some laps in and getting as much track time in as possible. If I get into the points I’ll be happy as Larry!
#15 Nathan Harrison
I am really looking forward to my first race with the Honda Racing UK team, all of whom have made me feel really welcome so thank you to them all. We have learnt a lot in testing, especially with me having to learn the superbike for the first time, the slick tyres and how to operate in a full factory team. This weekend I’m back on the superstock bike and my fingers are crossed for some sunshine after all those wet days of testing! I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and see what happens!
Havier Beltran – Race Team Manager
It is fantastic to be heading back to Silverstone for round 1 of the championship to kick things off for 2023 and get racing once more! The off-season has been incredibly busy behind the scenes with an extensive testing program and the increasing number of teams choosing to run the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in both Superbike and Superstock specifications. I’m excited to see how the team gets on with our refreshed rider line-up, and at a track that historically has been very good for the Fireblade.