Andrew Irwin eyes Supersport glory at Sunflower Trophy showpiece

Gearlink Kawasaki rider Andrew Irwin.
Gearlink Kawasaki rider Andrew Irwin.
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Young British Supersport prospect Andrew Irwin says only a winning return to Irish championship action will suffice as he weighs up his chances at this month’s JAS Finlay Sunflower Trophy meeting.

Irwin has flourished on the Gearlink Kawasaki this season and almost clinched his maiden rostrum at Assen at the beginning of October, where the 21-year-old finished in fourth place in race two behind title challenger Tarran Mackenzie.

The Newtownabbey rider’s older brother Glenn has made plenty of headlines in the Northern Ireland media after joining four-time British Superbike champion Shane Byrne in Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team in 2016, but Irwin is making a name for himself in his own right and has set himself a goal of reaching the top step in the Supersport races at Bishopscourt on October 22.

“Having ridden the Gearlink Kawasaki for the first time at Bishopscourt last year and doing well first time out, I’ll be aiming for the top step this year,” said Irwin, who finished in third place in race two in 2014 behind his brother Glenn and Ben Wilson as the Gearlink team celebrated a clean sweep of the rostrum at the Co Down track.

“I’ve had some good results this year on this bike and the team have been really brilliant to work with. The Sunflower is an event I look forward to every year so thanks to my Gearlink Kawasaki team for coming over.

“Bishopscourt is a great track and I really enjoy riding at it,” Irwin added.

“I can’t wait to get out on track and it’s always nice to ride at home in front of my family and friends at home.”

Irwin, who finished fourth in last year’s British Superstock 600 Championship, is currently in 10th place in the Dickies British Supersport standings ahead of this weekend’s final round at Brands Hatch in Kent.

He is part of an impressive line-up at the Sunflower meeting this year that also includes his brother Glenn on the Be Wiser Ducati, plus defending champion Danny Buchan, who will ride an MSS Kawasaki.

The brothers’ father Alan previously won the prestigious silverware in 1983 and 1987 and Glenn in particular will feel he has a superb opportunity to add his name to the roll of honour on the factory Ducati Panigale R Superbike.

The Gearlink team will run three riders at the event, with James East riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike.

Lisburn’s Carl Phillips, who has been flying high in the British Superstock 600 class this season, will join Irwin in the Gearlink colours after being handed the chance to compete for the team at Bishopscourt in the Supersport races.

Practice for Irish short circuit racing’s showpiece meeting, which hosts the final rounds of the Irish and Ulster championships, will take place on Friday, October 21.

A total of 14 races are planned on the main race bill, with the feature Sunflower race scheduled for 12 laps.