New British Superbike recruit Glenn Irwin says he is facing the biggest learning curve of his career as he continues to adapt to the PBM Be Wiser Ducati during pre-season testing at Cartagena in Spain.
Irwin and team-mate Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne arrived a day later than their fellow BSB counterparts as they took to the track for the first time on Friday and the young Ulster rider is keeping his enthusiasm in check as he finds his feet with the sweet-sounding 1199R Panigale.
“The bike is good and it’s definitely competitive, but like any bike you can find weaknesses and the team has been quite clever in terms of development; every time we go out there we’re getting quicker and quicker,” Irwin said.
“I followed [Ryuichi] Kiyonari earlier and I felt good behind him and I was following him again later on: I wasn’t close to him but I spotted him on the track and I wasn’t losing that much again to him either.
“It’s all coming together and because I can get a bit excitable, I’m trying to keep that approach where I don’t get too fired up and just keep chipping away rather than trying to make big leaps,” he added.
“I’m riding the bike with loads of respect and I know there are some areas where we can improve the bike, so we’ll keep working away.”
Irwin is getting to grips with a Superbike for the first time in his career and although the obvious difference is with the extra power at his disposal, he is also learning about the intricacies of the electronics.
“The bike obviously has a lot more power than I’ve been used to but to be fair we haven’t done anything drastic with the bike yet. It’s maybe too obvious if you have a slide or whatever to look at reducing the power and maybe we can look at the chassis a bit more,” he said.
“I think I understand a lot more now where we are with the mapping of the bike than I did initially. Now I’m finding that I actually want some more power back and maybe we can look at other ways to improve the grip a little.
“It’s obviously my first time ever riding a Superbike and I can remember when I was riding Supersport, I was looking at the Superbike times and thinking ‘I could do those times with a bit more extra power’.
“But although you’ve got more power, it only feels like it makes a difference on the straights and actually getting the thing into the corners and around them is a real challenge – it’s incredible how fast the bike is,” Irwin added.
“It’s the biggest learning curve in my career and with these bikes you really have to respect them and it’s about finding that fine line where confidence and respect all clicks.”
With the opening race of the 2016 championship only a month away, the excitement is building in Irwin as he prepares to make his BSB bow for Paul Bird’s team.
“I’m riding the bike and enjoying it and I know I’m learning a lot, so it’s all a progression,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the opening race, though I’ll have to do a few more practice starts because I’ve only done one so far!
“I’ve been gaining a tenth here and there and ticking off the laps, but I’m not ready to go out there and try and stick in a big lap and it would be foolish to do that right now because I’m still learning the bike.”