Glenn Irwin sets his sights high for 2019
Carrick’s Glenn Irwin claimed his only BSB win of 2018 when he romped to victory at the end of season Brands Hatch meeting, wrapping up third place in the championship standings.
It was a memorable year for the 28-year-old on the BeWiser Ducati but after signing for championship winning JG Speedfit Kawasaki for 2019 he knows that he must deliver the title for the first time.
Will this be the year the Carrick man wins the BSB championship I asked Glenn.
“You are right in what you say,” he said. “I think finishing 3rd in the championship in 2018 after only winning one race wasn’t bad but I think there were six races that I missed out on winning by less than half a second.
“I should have won two at Snetterton and also one at the Brands GP circuit earlier in the year. It could have been a definite five wins in 2018, not one. To be honest I think the bike was definitely past its best. You only have to look at ‘Shakeys’ record on it.
“Up until he got injured had maybe only won one race whereas in 2017 he won the championship but I can’t remember where he won in the second half of that season. When I jumped onto the Kawasaki at the first test I could feel the strengths of the bike. There are things I would like to improve but I think the new 2019 bike will be that improvement.
“Everyone last year saw with Leon (Haslam the 2018 champion) how consistent the package was. People would ask when is his run going to end? It simply wasn’t. Leon and Jake (Dixon) also on the Kawasaki were competitive everywhere. It was just a great bike.
“Obviously the bikes around us in 2019 will change as loads of new models are being launched but that could work in our favour as it might take them some time to get up to speed. We also have a new model but Kawasaki have been clever, as they have revised the bike instead of redesigning it and made it that bit better.
“Under the new rules we now have a bike that allows us an increased rpm, that’s clever. The team environment in Kawasaki is important to me. I got on very well with Paul (Bird the PBM boss) but at this stage of my career I like that family feel arm around me type of attitude, whereas ‘Birdy’ is absolutely ruthless, and he wouldn’t mind me saying it. He has been nothing but good to me because he gave me three good years on a superbike but there’s nothing I would love more than to beat his ‘V4’ project.
“The top brass in my new team are brilliant. They make you feel at home and to be signed as their number one rider in a championship winning team is special. Ok I was in a championship winning team but never as the number one.”
When ‘Shakey’ went out through injury it seemed as though you stepped up your game?
“I used to struggle in the qualifying but it’s funny because when he got injured I was immediately faster, getting five poles before the end of the year,” said Irwin.
“People would say that I was under pressure after ‘Shakeys’ accident but they don’t get it because when you believe in yourself there is no pressure. Suddenly I had to perform and I did perform. That’s a good thing going forward because to win the championship you can’t buckle under pressure.
“I don’t see it as pressure I see it as an opportunity that I have created. I have wanted to be in this position where I have win and I’ve got that, so it is down to me but in racing you never know what can happen. It’s racing!”
You are a treble NW200 superbike winner but you announced recently that you are going for a six timer at this years meeting.
“Yes I will be racing in the supertwins, superstock and superbike races,” he said. “For this year I will ride CMS/KW Electrical Kawasaki in two the Supertwins events and for the superbike and superstock it will be the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings ZX10RR.
“The supertwin is interesting as my last outing on a twin was at the Sunflower on John Burrows bike but we were simply up against a better bike in Ryan Farquhar’s Kawasaki. The power difference was unreal but it made the racing fun. The last race was one of the most enjoyable races of my career. It was nice to race against Jeremy but I just couldn’t get beat by him! At the NW200 I am going to ride a Kawasaki for Kevin Watret, an old sponsor of mine and his bike is good.”
“Will it be as fast as a Ryan Farquhar bike? No, but it should be close enough for me to make up the difference. The race won’t be won going to Coleraine it’s going to be won on the coast road. They always say that was Seeley’s part of the track but nobody has ever passed me on the coast road. It’s my favourite past of the track.
“The superstock bike was a no brainer as I’ve always complained about the lack of laps and this is only going to give me further knowledge of the track. Then we have the superbike. I’ve already won three out of four in the dry with sometimes only eight laps of practice. The dream is six race wins. Phillip won five in a day but if we had six in a week that would be special. My biggest competition must be Peter Hickman who is said to be the greatest road racer at the minute. He is a good friend of mine, but he’s never beaten me on the roads. I believe in ability and I am up there with the best of them. I want to go to the NW200 leading the British Championship and then I’d love to win six. Realistically though if I come away with another three NW wins I’d be happy and maybe that’s as far as it would go.”