Glenn Irwin is determined to get his Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign back on track when title fight reaches Brands Hatch this weekend (July 24/25), as the Honda Racing rider prepares to claw his way back up the standings.
Glenn Irwin led the standings for the majority of the 2020 season, but so far this year it just hasn’t gone the way of the Honda Racing rider, who arrives at round three with a best result of sixth place and holding 12th position in the overall standings.
“Testing was obviously good in terms of we were able to be fast, so I felt really good,” said Irwin. “Confidence-wise on the bike, I feel equally as strong as last year, but struggling a bit like at Knockhill, I have struggled a lot. I don’t want to use the word fitness because I feel fit. I have done a lot of good work over the winter, I am strong, but something has happened if that is the best way of putting it. I am really drained at the minute and it has been a struggle.”
The Honda Racing rider though is feeling positive ahead of the return to Kent this weekend, following the previous event at Knockhill as he bids to close the deficit.
“In saying that there has been a lot of positives to take as well so far this year. The bike at the end of Oulton Park and Knockhill was good and that is pleasing because Knockhill especially was a new circuit for us compared to 2020, added Irwin. “Our race pace in the last race was really good - I compared my sectors to those riders in the top five in the race, and we were right with them. We were very close in sector one, right with them or maybe stronger over an average in sector two, but we seemed to lose a lot out of the Hairpin, which we can take positively and look to improve when we go back there in the future.
“There are a lot of positives; the whole Knockhill weekend in general was tough physically but the last race from a bike and confidence point of view was good,” reflected Irwin. “It is a case of we have tried a lot of different things this year so far without really realising how much we have tried! We have changed some things electronically as we need to go forwards not sidewards, but I feel maybe we went a little bit amiss, but in race three at Knockhill it was much more like last year and things felt normal. I think we need to be consistent together, as when the bike is consistent, I can also be consistent.”
Arriving at Brands Hatch, Glenn Irwin is hopeful that he can fire himself back into the forefront of contention, at a circuit that proved to be the toughest for them last season.
“Overall I am not too disappointed as there have been glimpses of what it can do and Knockhill race three was a good example of that,” said Glenn Irwin. “I went through and picked someone like Christian [Iddon] as he was having a strong race and I took out our four worst sectors in sector one and the same in sector two and three.
“Over a 24-lap race I looked through our 20 best in each sector and I lost seventh tenths to Iddon in the first one over 20 laps, but I gained four tenths in the second one and lost two seconds at the Hairpin! It shows how we are looking at it and analysing it; we are not a million miles away and the bike is good, I just have to get to the bottom of what’s going on with me as it is frustrating.
“My feeling is we go to Brands Hatch now with where we left Knockhill in terms of the package and discovering something new with the chassis which seems to help us use the SCX tyre, so we go there and roll with that. We will work on our weaknesses from last year and maintain our strengths.
“I definitely do think that I can start my bid for more from here, of course you have to be in the Showdown before you think of anything else. The beauty of the Showdown is that I am only 18 points behind [eighth place]. Last year it was good having no Showdown in the position we were in but this year it’s great having it!
“Of course we can start to build a tally of points and we go onto Thruxton where Andrew [Irwin] won on the old Fireblade, and wherever the old bike was good, the new one seems to be better.
“Then it’s not long until Cadwell Park for our home round and all of the tracks we showed strongly at last year like Donington Park, so of course I would love to be better off right now, but I am not pressing the panic button! I have seen enough glimmers to show our positives and in my eyes one of the best teams in the paddock, if not the best, with a great motorbike and I am only going to get stronger.”