Gearlink Kawasaki’s Glenn Irwin began the 2015 Motorpoint British Supersport Championship with a rostrum finish in the shortened Sprint race at Donington Park on Sunday.
The Carrickfergus rider finished third behind the Luke Stapleford (Profile Triumph) and Jake Dixon on the Smiths Triumph.
The race was restarted over six laps after a red-flag incident when Freddie Pett came off, spraying a large amount of gravel onto the track at the Esses.
Irwin, who had qualified in fourth place, shot into the lead on the ZX-6R after the race was restarted, but the 25-year-old was closed down on the closing two laps by Stapleford, who managed to open a slight advantage after taking over at the front.
Dixon also found a way past Irwin to grab the runner-up spot, but it was a solid start for the Northern Ireland rider, who won five times in 2014 as he finished fourth overall in the championship standings.
Belfast’s Andy Reid finished fifth on the team Traction Control Yamaha behind Kyle Ryde, who beat Reid to clinch the National Superstock 600 crown last year.
Portadown veteran Marshall Neill was ninth overall and second in the Evo series on the In Competition Yamaha, while international road racing star Guy Martin finished 16th on the Smiths Triumph, taking the chance to gain some track time on the machine prior to the Isle of Man TT.
The feature British Supersport race at Donington takes place on the main race card on Easter Monday.