Ross Irwin became the fourth brother in his famous racing family to wind up the throttle as he made his short circuit debut at Saturday’s Ulster Superbike meeting at Kirkistown.
The 30-year-old is a latecomer compared to his brothers Glenn and Andrew, who both compete for Paul Bird’s PBM Be Wiser British Superbike team, while Graeme is a top-level motocross rider and the reigning British MX1 champion.
Ross – the oldest of the racing siblings from Carrickfergus – made a solid debut at the short circuit meeting on the Ards Peninsula in County Down, where he twice finished in fourth place in the Supertwins races on his 650 Kawasaki.
A former motocross rider, Ross opted to try his hand at the tarmac discipline of the sport after being encouraged by his brothers Glenn and Andrew, and his father Alan – who was a leading short circuit and road racer in his day.
He said: “It was so much fun and I’d done a couple of track days beforehand, but I’d never really ridden around with a group of riders at the same speed.
“It was nice to be able to do that and learn how fast I should be going into corners for my ability, whereas before I was a little off-field sometimes because of the inexperience.
“Everybody keeps asking me why I’m doing it but it was really Glenn and Andrew who talked me into riding at one of Nikki Coates’ track days,” he added.
“I went along and it was the first time I had rode a bike in about ten years, but I just really enjoyed it and I went out and bought a motorbike and said, ‘right, we’re going racing!’”
However, Ross - an IT recruiter - says that while he has been well and truly bitten by the racing bug, his younger brothers won’t have any need to be looking over their shoulders.
“It would be too much of a painful learning curve to go professional! I have zero expectations and zero objectives – if I get a little bit faster, then that’s cool, but if not, then I’ll still be having fun,” he said.
“It’s more of a hobby and I won’t be quitting my job to go professional or even try to put any high expectations on myself. But I’ve enjoyed it so much so far, so I’m going to keep on going.”
Ross’s 650 Kawasaki Supertwin bears the name of his grandfather, Fred, on the fairing, and the Carrick man says the design is a personal acknowledgment of the role he played in kick-starting his father Alan’s racing career.
“My grandfather was really the one who started it all off in the family, going racing with my dad out the back of a van,” he said.
“He was the man behind my dad in the early days and it’s just really a personal thing to acknowledge what he did because it probably wouldn’t all have happened if it wasn’t for him.”
Meanwhile, Bennetts British Superbike title contender Glenn is preparing for this weekend’s final round of the championship at Silverstone before the Showdown commences.
He is currently third in the standings and has all but guaranteed his place in the top six for the first time.
Irwin said: “For me now it’s about going out and enjoying the three races this weekend and if I do, I should score enough points to get into the Showdown.
“It’s been a difficult past two rounds for us, which didn’t reflect our true pace, so hopefully with some good luck we can put that right.
“I have great memories of Silverstone after taking the win there last year, so the plan is to do the same this year, although the new layout will be fun.”