BSB Oulton Park: Glenn Irwin reflects on 'testing' weekend
Glenn Irwin was left frustrated on Sunday as the Honda Racing rider had to settle for two top-ten finishes at Oulton Park in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
The Carrick man had bagged a solid sixth place in Saturday’s opening race of the 2021 series, held in front of a limited crowd of 4,000 spectators for the first time since October 2019, but was unable to improve his results in the final two races.
Irwin was left to rue contact with Ryan Vickers (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) on the opening lap of the final race, which forced him to run wide onto the grass.
The 31-year-old battled his way back to finish 10th at the end of the 18-lap race.
McAMS Yamaha rider Jason O’Halloran dominated with a treble, with VisionTrack Ducati’s Christian Iddon sealing the runner-up spot in all three races over the weekend.
Irwin said: “It has been a testing weekend, but we are coming away having learnt a lot. The third race was probably our best ride of the weekend, we made a big change to the Fireblade taking a bit of a risk, but we wanted to try something to give us an insight here when we come back at the end of the year, and potentially at other circuits.
“The Fireblade was working really well in that race, but I had a collision on lap one with another rider which set me back to 20th and it was tough from there. Everyone we caught we were able to pass immediately.
“It was a promising final race with our worst result of the weekend, but the best in terms of the development we managed to achieve with the Fireblade. Hats off to Jason with his three wins this weekend.”
After starting from sixth on the second row of the grid, Irwin finished ninth in race two.
O’Halloran came out on top to wrap up a double, pulling off a last-gasp move to snatch victory from Iddon at Lodge on the final lap.
Peter Hickman claimed a maiden rostrum for the FHO Racing team with a strong ride to third on the new M1000RR BMW. Danny Buchan (SYNETIQ BMW) kept Bradley Ray at bay for fourth.
Tommy Bridewell, third on Saturday, was ruled out of the race with a detached chain on his Oxford Products Ducati when he touched Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha), who dropped back to 13th.
Mackenzie fought back to finish the race in sixth place, edging out reigning champion Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati) on the last lap, with Lee Jackson (FS-3 Kawasaki) next ahead of Irwin.
Andrew Irwin was a disappointing 15th after he was forced to start from row six following his crash in Saturday’s race.
The 26-year-old was a retirement in race three with machine trouble, ending the opening weekend with a solitary point.
On Saturday, Honda man Irwin held off OMG BMW’s Kyle Ryde in the closing stages for sixth.
O’Halloran won the first race of the year after starting from fourth place on row two of the grid, with last year’s championship runner-up clinching the win by 0.6s from Iddon, while Bridewell took the chequered flag in third ahead of Hickman, who was a lonely fourth.
O’Halloran’s Yamaha team-mate Mackenzie took fifth, three seconds ahead of Irwin. Brookes was 10th, while Senior TT winner Dean Harrison secured a points-scoring finish in 14th on the Silicone Kawasaki.
Waterford man Brian McCormack came home in 20th place on the Roadhouse Macau by FHO Racing BMW on Saturday and was 21st and 18th on Sunday.
Race 1: J O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha); 2 C Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati) +0.630s; 3 T Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) +0.778s; 4 P Hickman (FHO BMW) +5.913s; 5 T Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +12.954s; 6 G Irwin (Honda Racing) +15.889s.
Race 2: 1 J O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha); 2 C Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati) +0.103s; 3 P Hickman (FHO BMW) +7.057s; 4 D Buchan (SYNETIQ BMW) +11.059s; 5 B Ray (OMG BMW) +11.101s; 6 T Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +11.752s.
Race 3: 1 J O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha); 2 C Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati) +0.569s; 3 T Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) +0.781s; 4 T Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +1.025s; 5 P Hickman (FHO BMW) +6.949s; 6 J Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati) +10.024s) +10.024s
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