The Be Wiser Ducati team had a superb day of racing at Brands Hatch today with Glenn Irwinclaiming his first win of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship season and team-mate and younger brother Andrew taking a superb fourth place.
Having posted the second quickest time across the three free practice sessions, Glenn’s intentions for the weekend were clear and he went quicker still in Datatag Extreme Qualifying on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R with a time of 1m 24.876s. It saw him line up in second place and in the middle of the front row for today’s opening 20-lap race, the first of three across the weekend.
The 28 year old from Carrickfergus made the perfect start to the race, grabbing the lead off the line and from that moment on he was never headed. Despite coming under pressure initially from Jake Dixon and then, for eight laps, from Andrew, he never put a wheel wrong and ultimately took his first win of the year, and first Superbike win in the dry, by just under two seconds from Dixon.
The 25 points also saw him take a firm grip on third place overall in the title race with his advantage over Josh Brookes 13 points with just two races left tomorrow. 24-year-old Andrew was also in excellent form and enjoyed a strong day, making it through to Q3 where he eventually qualified in an excellent fourth place to head off the second row, just over half a second adrift of pole position.
Like Glenn, he made a fine start to slot into fifth place which became fourth on lap three when he moved ahead of Peter Hickman. With what turned out to be the second fastest lap of the race, he continued to move forward and took second place on lap eight with the siblings circulating at the head of the field for the next eight laps, a dream position for Paul Bird’s Penrith-based team.
However, just when it looked a 1-2 was on the cards, Andrew slipped back in the closing stages having slightly over used his tyres but although he ended up finishing fourth, it equalled his best BSB result to date.
Glenn Irwin: “It was good to be on the front row after qualifying and we were feeling confident ahead of the race. I’ve been within half a second of a race win about six or seven times this year, so I said to the team it was now or never and everything fell into place. My timer on the dash wasn’t working so it was difficult to know what the gap was to the rider behind me, so I set quite a slow pace to begin with. I then saw Andrew’s pit board with ‘P2’ on it and I didn’t want him behind me as he’s pretty mad, but I knew with his lack of experience he’d be harder on the tyre than me so pushed hard in the final third of the race. It allowed me to pull away and it’s the best way to finish my time with the team as Paul Bird has given me so much over the last three years.”
Andrew Irwin: “The race was better than I expected to be fair and when I was running in second behind my brother it was unreal as the dream would have been to get a 1-2 as it’s something that’s never been done before. I tried a bit too hard in the last few laps though and made a few mistakes and it was enough for me to lose a podium place. The bike’s been working well all weekend and been very consistent so with two more races tomorrow I’ll be looking to sign off my time with the team with a podium.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It was a faultless ride from Glenn and after grabbing the hole shothe didn’t put a wheel wrong. His first race win in the dry and his first one in 2018 has been a long time coming but it couldn’t have been done any better as he really dominated proceedings and I’m pleased he’s got one under his belt before moving onto pastures new in 2019. As for Andrew, it’s been a pleasure having him in the team and he’s ridden well all weekend so fourth place was an excellent effort. Of course, he’s a bit disappointed he didn’t finish on the podium and perhaps he used the tyres a bit more than the other riders, but he’s only had a handful of races on a Superbike and one thing’s for sure is that he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship Race One
1 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
3 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
4 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
5 Peter Hickman (BMW)
6 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
1 Haslam 664 points
2 Dixon 613
3 Glenn Irwin 579
4 Brookes 566
5 Hickman 560
6 Ray 538
17 Andrew Irwin 90
Pictures courtesy Double Red: Glenn Irwin (2) and Andrew Irwin (18)