Glenn Irwin may be a newcomer to this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200 but the British Supersport Championship frontrunner is setting his sights on a sensational podium.
The Carrickfergus rider sampled pure road racing for the first time last year at the Ulster Grand Prix and Irwin is now preparing to follow in the footsteps of fellow high profile short circuit stars including Josh Brookes and Peter Hickman by tackling the 8.9-mile Triangle circuit next week.
Irwin, currently fourth in the championship standings after finishing as the runner-up in the Sprint race at Oulton Park and fourth in the feature British Supersport race on Bank Holiday Monday, is also emulating his father Alan, who was a highly regarded circuit and roads protagonist in the eighties and nineties.
British championship riders have traditionally acquitted themselves well around the fast, flowing North West 200 course, where the numerous chicanes arguably play to their strengths.
Aussie Brookes finished as the runner-up in last year’s feature Superbike race behind Michael Dunlop while Hickman – who will miss the event this year due to injuries sustained in a crash at Oulton Park – impressed a year ago as the top rookie.
Irwin has no intentions of taking things steady in his first year and the 25-year-old feels he could spring a surprise at the first big international roads meeting of the year, where he will compete in both Supersport races on the Gearlink Kawasaki ZX-6R and in the Supertwins class on Robbie Silvester’s Kawasaki ER6.
“I’ve made it clear that I want to get a result in my first year at the North West,” said Irwin, whose team-mate Ben Wilson will also make his course debut next week.
“I honestly think that I can win. Bruce Anstey won on his North West debut and although I’m no Bruce Anstey it does show that it’s not impossible.
“Having dad in my corner is brilliant and although he would probably have preferred that I hadn’t gone road racing, his advice has been invaluable. It certainly worked for me at the Ulster,” he added.
“Everything dad knows he has given me.”
Irwin has used the opportunity to gain some important advice from 13-times North West winner Michael Rutter, who has joined the Gearlink Kawasaki team in the British Superbike class as a replacement for Joe Burns.
“I spoke to Michael at Brands at the weekend and I was joking with him that he has to be my North West mentor,” he said.
“He says the track isn’t too hard to learn and that he will give me some tips on slipstreaming.
“The coast road has a short circuit flow to it and going flat out from Portstewart to Coleraine… where else could you do it?”
Irwin is also using a sports psychologist to prepare for his debut.
“I work with a sports psychologist and I have been talking to him about the best way to be fast and stay safe,” Irwin said.
“know I have to be in the right mindset to be competitive at the North West and if I can get it right don’t be surprised to see me on the podium.”