Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn Irwin swept to an emphatic double victory at the International North West200 in Northern Ireland today when he took both Superbike races by commanding margins around the high-speed 8.9-mile circuit.
Last year’s Superbike race winner, Irwin had signalled his intentions in qualifying, held in superb conditions, when he took a superb pole position on Thursday afternoon, a lap of 122.454mph on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R giving him a slender 0.066s advantage over Kawasaki rider Dean Harrison.
Conditions today were again perfect and the opening seven-lap Superbike race saw the Carrickfergus rider grab the holeshot and he never looked back. His lead over closest rival Michael Rutter at the end of the first lap was 3.7 seconds and this had become five seconds by the end of lap two with record race winner Alastair Seeley now in second.
Irwin’s fellow Ulsterman reduced the margin over the next couple of laps but the 28 year old responded in superb fashion to extend his lead again over the final three laps and with Seeley receiving a five second penalty for jumping the start, he took his second Superbike victory in a row at the Causeway Coast track from Dean Harrison.
The second race later in the day, again held over the distance of seven laps, saw an even more commanding performance and with a 3.5 second lead at the end of the first lap, he continually increased this over the course of the seven laps. Indeed, by the end of the race, his margin of victory over Michael Dunlop was nearly ten seconds as he completed a stunning double, also setting the fastest lap of the meeting at an average 122.809mph.
Glenn Irwin: “What can I say, it’s just been an awesome day! I managed to get the holeshot in bothraces and just got my head down which allowed me to break the tow of the other riders. With clear road, you can ride almost the perfect lap and the support I was getting from the crowd was unreal – I didn’t need a pitboard as the crowd were giving me all the signals I needed! The sun shone all day and the crowd was huge so with it being a hard week for the team after Shakey’s accident, hopefully today’s wins have lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Paul Bird, Team Owner: “Before the meeting, I thought it was going to be hard to win one race, let alone two, given the standard of competition but Glenn’s been full of confidence all week and he rode exceptionally well and well within himself. He looked good right from the word go and the team needed a lift after Shakey’s accident earlier in the week so for him to take the double and make it three wins from the last three Superbike races is brilliant. It was difficult with not riding in the other races like all the other riders but it never showed and he got his head down from the start to deliver two brilliant win.”
Merrow Hotel & Spa NW200 Superbike race (7 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Michael Dunlop (BMW)
3 Lee Johnston (Honda)
4 Martin Jessopp (BMW)
5 Conor Cummins (Honda)
6 Dean Harrison (Kawasaki)
Anchor Bar Superbike race (7 laps)
1 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati)
2 Dean Harrison (Kawasaki)
3 Michael Rutter (BMW)
4 Lee Johnston (Honda)
5 Alastair Seeley (BMW)
6 Conor Cummins (Honda)
Pictures courtesy of Gavan Caldwell.