Carrick’s Glenn Irwin was back on the British Supersport rostrum yesterday with a brilliant ride to third place in an incident-filled Sprint race at Oulton Park.
The Gearlink Kawasaki rider, who tasted success in the class for the first time in the season opener at Brands Hatch in April, kept Luke Jones at bay to nail down the last place on the podium behind Smiths Triumph rider Billy McConnell and Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Triumph).
Irwin now leads the championship ahead of Monday’s second race at the Cheshire track by one point from McConnell.
Mar-Train Racing’s Alastair Seeley, who won last time out at Brands, suffered the misfortune of a huge crash while chasing McConnell for the lead.
The two-time British champion appeared to lose the rear of the Yamaha R6 on the exit of Druids with Graeme Gowland, who was following close behind, also crashing at the same time as the Smiths Triumph contender seemed to lose control of his machine as he reacted to Seeley’s impending spill in front of him.
Irwin, who is spearheading Gearlink Kawasaki’s Supersport title bid after Ben Wilson stepped up to the British Superbike class with the team, said: “I knew they guys in front had more pace than us because they were able to test here last week - it’s not an excuse, it’s just they are a mega calibre of riders.
“Luke Jones came past me and after the incidents at the front had happened I thought ‘I’m not losing a podium’ and I dug a bit deeper and set my fastest two laps at the end.
“Hopefully that will give us a good place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
“I’m doing something in this championship with a first, fifth and a third. That’s championship form but we’ll not speak too soon and I’ll take it while it’s there.”
It was Gowland who shot into the lead followed by McConnell with pole man Seeley in third.
Seeley, though, soon passed both to hit the front although McConnell made a hard pass up the inside at Island Bend, pushing the Ulsterman out wide.
McConnell began to open a slight gap but Seeley and Gowland weren’t far behind when they crashed out on lap seven, gifting the Australian an easy victory in the end by five seconds from Stapleford.
Irwin held on for third from Jones, with Jake Dixon fifth and Taylor Mackenzie on the Tyco Suzuki completing the top six.