British Supersport star Glenn Irwin believes he has a gilt-edged opportunity to deliver a coveted international road racing victory for Dungannon team boss John Burrows at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix next month.
Irwin, who made his roads bow last year at Dundrod, will ride Burrows’ Cookstown/BE Racing Kawasaki in the 650cc class, taking over the ride from Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton, who is recuperating in hospital from the injuries he sustained in a serious crash at the Isle of Man TT in June.
The Carrick rider impressed on his way to fifth place in the Dundrod 150 Supertwins race last August and will start as one of the pre-race favourites, despite his relative inexperience at the ‘World’s Fastest Road Race’.
Irwin – who clinched a sensational runner-up finish in the second Supersport race at the North West 200 on his debut this year on the Gearlink Kawasaki – said: “John’s put a lot of work into the bike and it’s shown massive potential at the North West and the TT with Jamie Hamilton. It’s been setting really strong lap times all year.
“I’ve now got a year’s experience at Dundrod on the Supertwin so I think we’ll be in a really good place come Bike Week. It’s not just the strength of the bike though, John’s entire crew is a big bonus too.
“It’s an experienced, local set-up and there is a real buzz around them,” he added. “I thrive off that so I’m excited to get out. It will be a close race but we are definitely going there to win, that has to be the aim.”
Irwin will also compete in both Supersport races on his British Championship Gearlink Kawasaki at Dundrod.
Lincolnshire’s Ivan Lintin is chasing a hat-trick of Supertwin victories at the Ulster Grand Prix and the Lightweight TT winner sets the standard on the RC Express Kawasaki following back-to-back triumphs in 2013 and 2014.
Along with Irwin, his opposition includes Christian Elkin, who will ride the McKinstry Kawasaki used to such good effect last year by Lintin at the 7.4-mile course.
“Ivan won this race for the last two years and he had a great TT so he’ll definitely be up there, but we’ve got a good package ready to take him on,” Elkin said.
“I haven’t had a lot of time with the bike on the roads but it went really well around Scarborough and I lapped Kirkistown just above the lap record first time out, so I think we’ll be there or thereabouts.
“For me personally I want to build on last year. I had a podium on the Moto3 machine and then I was fourth at this year’s North West 200, so the plan is to go one better at the Ulster.”
The line-up also includes young guns James Cowton, Derek McGee and Connor Behan.
The Ulster GP Supertwins race is backed by Crumlin-based haulage firm, Maxwell Freight Services, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015.
The company is owned and managed by twin brothers Terry and Tommy Maxwell and provides haulage, storage and distribution services throughout the UK and Ireland.
Bike Week at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix takes place from August 3-8.