Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn Irwin put in a pair of solid performances in the two Bennetts BritishSuperbike Championship races at Assen today to finish in fourth and fifth places and remain well in contention for third place overall in this year’s series.
And with younger brother Andrew taking a fine sixth place in race two, it marked a good day’s work for the Penrith-based team in a dramatic weekend of action at the Dutch track in the penultimate round of the 2018 campaign.
After qualifying in fourth, Glenn started the first 18-lap race on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R from the head of the second row of the grid, although he slipped back to sixth at the completion of the first lap. Here was where he remained until lap five when he moved ahead of Christian Iddon to take fifth and with a succession of quick, consistent laps he began to reduce the gap to the leading four riders.
As the race went into its second half, the 28 year old from Carrickfergus was unable to match their pace around the 2.82-mile TT circuit and he completed the race in a solid fifth place, four seconds adrift of fourth but two seconds clear of sixth.
It meant he started the second race from sixth on the grid and on the second row once more but although he completed the first lap in eighth, a crash at the end of lap two saw him involved with the fallen Dan Linfoot and dropped back to 15th place as a result.
A safety car period allowed the group to bunch up once more and when racing resumed, Glenn set about moving up the leaderboard and with a series of overtaking manoeuvres he put in a brilliant ride to claim fourth place at the chequered flag. With 24 points taken on the day, the Northern Irishman now sits in fourth place overall but just three points behind third placed Josh Brookes with three races to go.
Younger brother and Be Wiser Ducati team-mate Andrew also suffered in the opening laps of the first race, dropping back from his qualifying position of 14th to 17th and although his lap times were very similar to those riders running inside the top ten, the 24 year old was unable to make any major advances forward and finished in 16th place, just outside the points.
He started race two from the middle of the sixth row in 17th place but benefited from the mayhem on the opening laps and found himself in 11th place on lap five. This soon became tenth and when Glenn overhauled him, he set a similar pace to move through the pack too. It looked like he’d take seventh place but a good pass on Christian Iddon on the final lap allowed him to claim sixth place, the second-best finish in his short BSB career.
Glenn Irwin: “Race one was quite difficult, so it was nice to end the race weekend on a positive note. We decided to use the harder tyre for race two which we’ve always struggled to make work on the Be Wiser Ducati and have used very little. I didn’t make a great start and was around eighth place when Dan Linfoot crashed in front of me which left me with nowhere to go. I thought the race was going to be red flagged so sat up and raised my hand, but it never happened, and I dropped way back down the order. Once all the incidents had gone, it was just a matter of putting my head down and I lapped as quick on the harder tyre as I had on the softer one in race one. I was more consistent in race two and we made a good step forward with the bike and also my confidence. We’ll head to the final round now and look to end the season on a high. Best wishes to Dan for a speedy recovery too.”
Andrew Irwin: "It's been a bit of a frustrating weekend as it wasn't until race two that I felt comfortableon the bike and race one was a bit of a disaster finishing out of the points, so it was good to turn it around. We changed the bike back to how it was when I rode it earlier in the year which was a bit more user friendly and I lapped faster on the harder tyre in race two than what I had on the softer tyre in race one. I was also almost as quick as what I had been in qualifying. We know now the direction we need to work in for the final round at Brands Hatch and although a few people crashed in race two, there were still some good riders behind me, so it was a good sixth place finish. I can't be disappointed with sixth, so we go to the final round in a good position and with three races to score some good results."
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “Glenn made a solid start in race one and worked his way up to fifth and although he tried to close the gap to the leading four riders he couldn’t quite match their pace and had to settle for safe points. We made some changes to the bike for race two, but he got boxed in at turn one and lost some places which gave him work to do. He then unfortunately got tangled up with Dan Linfoot which led to him raising his hand as he thought the race would be stopped but it wasn’t to be, and he dropped way back. He rode fantastically well though to come back up to fourth. Andrew’s starting position in race one ultimately cost him any chance of a decent finish, but he got a full race distance under his belt and we gathered some data for race two. He was determined to make up for it in race two and after dicing for places just inside the top ten, he fought all the way to the end to bring the Be Wiser Ducati home in a brilliant sixth place.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race one (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki)
3 Tarran Mackenzie (Yamaha)
4 Peter Hickman (BMW)
5 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
6 Tommy Bridewell (Ducati)
16 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Bennetts British Superbike Championship race two (18 laps)
1 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki)
2 Josh Brookes (Yamaha)
3 Peter Hickman (BMW)
4 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
5 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
6 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
Championship standings (after eleven rounds)
1 Haslam 654pts
2 Dixon 593
3 Brookes 557
4 Glenn Irwin 554
5 Hickman 549
6 Ray 533
17 Andrew Irwin 77
Images courtesy Double Red: Glenn Irwin (2) and Andrew Irwin (18)