The Be Wiser Ducati pairing of Carrickfergus brothers Glenn and Andrew Irwin scored solid resultsat Oulton Park today in the opening Showdown round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, with Glenn moving up to third overall in the championship table and Andrew securing a career best finish of fourth place.
With wet conditions for the opening 16-lap race, a problem seconds before the start meant Glenn was unable to take his second row position and, instead, he was forced to start from the back of the grid on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R which meant he was faced with a difficult task given the amount of riders he would have to pass and the spray he would encounter.
Indeed, although he gained several places on the opening lap, progress thereafter proved hard going and it wasn’t until lap ten that he moved into the points. However, he dug deep for the entire race distance and the last lap saw him clinch 12th place for what could prove to be four crucial points.
Meanwhile younger brother Andrew revelled in the wet conditions and having completed the first lap in seventh place, he soon moved into the top six and despite having a few moments on the damp but drying track, he grabbed fourth place on the penultimate lap to claim his best BSB result to date.
The results meant that it was Andrew who had the better starting position for race two, taking the grid in second place and the middle of the front row whilst Glenn found himself in the middle of the pack in 14th.
On this occasion, it was Glenn who made the better progress of the two after Andrew made a sluggish start and by lap five, 28-year-old Glenn had moved up to ninth with 23-year-old Andrew one place further back.
The circuit was almost dry all the way round and although the leading group of six riders had made a break, Glenn kept pushing hard and sure enough, the gap soon came down. Fifth going into the final lap, he was lining up a move on Tarran Mackenzie on the final lap only for Josh Brookes to sneak by on the run in to the line.
Sixth place in the race, along with the earlier 12th did, however, enable him to move up to joint third overall in the table whilst ninth place for Andrew saw him finish both races inside the top ten for the first time this season.
Glenn Irwin: “Unfortunately, the bike stalled at the beginning of race one and I had to start at the back of the grid and although I’m normally good in the damp conditions, I didn’t carry the confidence I’d gained in practice into the race, so it was a long 16 laps. It was a bit of a blip but in race two I fought as hard as I could and once I got going, my pace was similar to the leaders. Coming from 14th on the grid to sixth place was good and the bike felt strong and the team have worked really hard all weekend, like always, so a big thanks to them.”
Andrew Irwin: “Race one was really good and although I had a few moments, they came when I was alittle bit eager and trying to make up the ground a little bit too soon. Had it not been for that it could well have been a podium although I was still more than happy with fourth at this stage of my BSB career. Unfortunately, I made a bad start in race two and rode tense for the first dozen laps but after that things started to flow again and ninth ensured I’d finished both races inside the top ten which is always my aim.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It was a difficult two races for Glenn and after stalling the bike at the beginning of race one, he had to start from the back of the grid and with tricky conditions, he just didn’t have the confidence to push hard. 12th wasn’t an ideal start to our Showdown and although he was hindered by his grid position in race two, he came through the pack strongly although it was a little too late to challenge for the podium. We’ve moved up to joint third in the championship so will make a plan for Assen and look to bounce back. Andrew rode brilliantly to take fourth place in the tricky conditions in race one despite having a few out of the seat moments! He rode well, and it was important that he backed it up with a good second race and that is exactly what he did. Taking two top ten finishes is good for his confidence and exactly what he needed so it’s good that he’s achieved it this weekend.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (16 laps)
1 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
2 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
3 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
4 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
5 Michael Laverty (BMW)
6 Jason O’Halloran (Honda)
12 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
2 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
3 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
4 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
5 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
6 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
9 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship Points (after ten rounds)
1 Haslam 604pts
2 Dixon 573
3 Brookes 530
= Glenn Irwin 530
5 Ray 524
6 Hickman 520
17 Andrew Irwin 67
Pictures courtesy Double Red: Glenn Irwin (2) and Andrew Irwin (18)