Glenn Irwin’s resounding Superbike double on the PBM Ducati at the North West 200 on Saturday evoked memories of Carl Fogarty’s famous brace 25 years ago.
Four-time World Superbike champion Fogarty won both showpieces race on an unforgettable day in 1993, wowing the crowds with an imperious display on the Moto Cinelli Ducati.
Fittingly, the popular Blackburn man was on hand to witness Irwin repeat the feat on the sun-splashed North Coast on Saturday, when the Carrick rider blitzed the opposition on the thunderous Italian Panigale.
Fogarty, who was joined on the VIP guest list by triple World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, said: “It’s amazing to think it was so long ago. I really wanted to win here and I finally did it after quite a few years of missing out.
“I set a new lap record as well so it was all good. It’s always been a special race and it meant so much to finally win.”
Pole-sitter Irwin was simply untouchable as he led all 14 Superbike laps across the two premier races to make it three consecutive victories on the Ducati, counting his dramatic triumph over Alastair Seeley in 2017.
After celebrating in front of the packed grandstands following his masterful performance in the blue riband finale, Irwin said: “These are the best fans in the world. No matter what sport it is, they always get right behind you.
“I had to do the perfect lap at the start and the PBM Ducati was working a dream. It’s just awesome.
“We’ve had such a good set-up all week and it’s great to share the podium with Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston.
“I know people think there’s a bit of a feud with Michael but I look up to him as a road racer and hopefully we can shakes hands and put this one to bed.”
Irwin added: “The team has been phenomenal and we’ve had a great week here. We’ve actually had a holiday and turned a few laps on the bike, so what more could you ask for.”
Irwin’s emphatic Superbike brace will be remembered for years to come.
He set the tone in the opener, perfectly executing his strategy of breaking clear on the first lap before controlling the race to wrap up his second North West 200 win.
A false neutral on lap four caused him to go through the stop-box at Juniper chicane, allowing Dean Harrison to slash his advantage to under one second.
Irwin, though, quickly settled back into his groove and opened a gap of almost three seconds. He had the luxury of being able to coast home and took the flag by one second over Harrison, with 14-time winner Michael Rutter completing the rostrum on the Bathams BMW.
Honda Racing’s Lee Johnston rode a solid race in fourth as he finished ahead of Alastair Seeley (Tyco BMW), who incurred a five-second penalty for jumping the start.
Manx rider Conor Cummins was sixth on the Padgett’s Honda.
The feature Superbike race was re-started following a red flag on lap one, when Nadieh Schoots came off at Ballysally roundabout, escaping serious injury.
After a delay of 35 minutes, Irwin once again stole a march as he powered clear.
Michael Dunlop, who retired from race one on the Tyco BMW, emerged as the rider to take up the pursuit.
He closed Irwin’s advantage to 4.1 seconds at the end of lap three, but the BSB frontrunner wasn’t for catching.
Irwin won by almost ten seconds at the finish as Dunlop lost time on the final lap, a rear tyre issue not helping his cause.
Johnston sealed third place for Honda, followed by Martin Jessopp (Riders BMW), Cummins and Harrison.
Irwin became the first rider since Steve Plater in 2006 to clinch a Superbike double and the first since Rutter (2004-05) to win three in a row.