Glenn Irwin’s rousing performance at the Macau Grand Prix only served to endorse his potential as a top-flight international road racer, but the talented Ulsterman only has eyes for the British Superbike Championship in 2017.
The 26-year-old from Carrickfergus has now officially signed on the dotted line for Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team to line up alongside five-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne next season.
However, Irwin has ruled out a return to the North West 200, saying his sole focus is on securing his place in the coveted BSB Showdown.
NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte was in attendance at Macau and took the opportunity to talk to Irwin, but the high-flying Ulster rider – who clinched a Supersport podium at the event during a stunning debut last year – told the News Letter any possibility of a ‘Triangle’ comeback next season was a non-starter.
“We’re definitely concentrating on British Superbikes next year. I’ll be at the North West with my son Freddie and we’ll have some ice cream and a burger and watch the racing, but that will be it,” said Irwin, who was in the mix for a podium at Macau when he was forced out with a lap to go due to an electrical problem.
“Next year is the year I really have to break through. Don’t get me wrong, we did okay for my first season in BSB, but it won’t be good enough to finish eighth or ninth next year – I need to step up and become the rider that the team wants to employ and do the best for my career.
“I want to push for the Showdown and going back to the North West isn’t something that’s going to happen in the foreseeable future, but I’ll be there next year supporting the event.”
Reflecting on his headline-grabbing performance at Macau, Irwin says the bitter disappointment of his DNF has now passed and he is able to fully appreciate his eye-catching debut at the famous Chinese race.
“I was disappointed at the time but looking back on it now, I’m not so disappointed,” he said.
“We qualified on the front row, four tenths off pole, and we were right in the running for a podium going into the last lap.
“I said Macau was an event to tick off the list but the way things panned out it looks like I’ll probably have to go back again next year.
“The thing about Macau is that it takes place when the British Superbike season is over, so if you’ve had a good year, then why not go and do it?” added Irwin.
“I know where I need to improve at Macau for next year and I almost feel like if I went back to Macau now, I could win.
“It’s a special event for the team and it falls at a good time of the year, and I feel I have unfinished business there.”