British Supersport victory is perfect springboard for Glenn Irwin

Glenn Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki at Brands Hatch
Glenn Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki at Brands Hatch

Glenn Irwin says his sensational maiden British Supersport victory at Brands Hatch is the perfect confidence-booster for the remainder of the season.

The Carrickfergus rider held it all together in challenging conditions in the opening Sprint race of the season at the 1.2-mile Indy circuit in Kent to wrap up a dream success only two years after making his debut in the series.

Irwin started from pole position and after battling with Luke Jones (Triumph) and Jake Dixon (Yamaha) – who crashed out of third place on the final lap – the 24-year-old found something extra in the closing stages to hold off Jones and take a landmark victory by 0.173 seconds.

The former Irish Supersport champion led briefly in the main Supersport race on Easter Monday before dropping back, eventually finishing in a respectable fifth place to cap a superb debut for the Gearlink Kawasaki team.

His fellow Carrick rider, Alastair Seeley, won Monday’s race after finishing third on Sunday to take the championship lead by five points from Irwin after the opening round.

“The weekend went really well at the first round with my new team Gearlink Kawasaki. To take my first British Supersport win was such an awesome feeling, everything just felt right and the Gearlink team got my bike working perfectly in the wet,” Irwin said.

“I was nervous with my first pole position but I was also keen to have a good strong race. I pushed hard the entire race and Luke Jones was challenging me on several occasions for the win but I was so keen to be up at the front.

“It was a real confidence boost going into the main race on Monday and I was starting on the front row again,” he added.

“The second race I knew would be hard in the dry and I just wanted to use my head and try and ride a mature race.”

Inspired by his performance at the Easter meeting, Irwin has a clear idea of how he can improve the Gearlink Kawasaki ZX-6R as he now looks ahead to the second round at Oulton Park on Bank Holiday Monday, May 5.

“I’m happy with fifth place and I am leaving Brands lying in second place in the Championship standings which is brilliant, so thanks to everyone who is helping me this season,” he said.

“We know what we need to work on now to progress and move things forward at the rest of the races.”

The young Northern Ireland rider could hardly have asked for a better start to the new season and Irwin is determined to prove he can sustain a championship challenge after his confidence took a knock in 2013.

Riding for Mar-Train Racing, Irwin was axed by the team with three rounds of the championship remaining.

Scottish rider Stuart Easton went on to clinch the title for Tim Martin’s outfit and after securing runner-up Seeley’s services this year, Mar-Train will be aiming to make a successful defence of the crown with the experienced 34-year-old leading the title charge.

Seeley will also bid to achieve a much coveted victory for the team at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in May, where the double British champion is chasing an 11th victory around the 8.9-mile Triangle circuit on the north coast.