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Championship leader Glenn Irwin on Oulton Park: “The pressure is on”

 

The Bennetts British Superbike Championship reaches the second half of the 2020 season this weekend (September 18/19/20) at Oulton Park and Glenn Irwin still holds the position at the top of the standings with a 35-point advantage ahead of the next three rounds.

The Honda Racing rider claimed a trio of fourth place finishes last time out at Silverstone, arriving into the previous race weekend predicting that Yamaha and Suzuki would be strong on the National circuit, which was indeed the case.

“Silverstone was an unknown going into it, as to how strong we would be,” said Irwin. “We already touched before the weekend on the fact that we knew Yamaha and Suzuki would be good and we know Ducati are good everywhere, but we expected Yamaha and Suzuki to be awesome going off last year. So it certainly wasn’t a shock to see Taz and Jason up there winning and on the podium. Last year they dominated the races and then Josh Elliott was up there on the Suzuki so that made us quite open-minded going into Silverstone and that is an approach I have had everywhere so far this year.”

Silverstone proved to be a challenge for teams across the grid and Irwin admits that was also the case for the Honda Racing team. However the consistent points-scoring will prove pivotal in the outcome in the 2020 title battle and Irwin had that in the back of his mind throughout the three rounds.

“After Saturday’s race we needed to work on a plan because Sunday’s race was five laps different,” reflected Irwin. “In Round 7, we thought we would have a go at one stage, I thought there was a chance I could win it until one bike went past me and I expected him to drop back later, which is what happened, so fourth was our lot for the first race. I knew we would have to work harder because I knew that riding like that on Sunday, in the longer races, there was also a chance we could have dropped back further than fourth.

“We sat down as a team and we made a plan to get the most out of the bike, we had to improve the tyre life for Sunday and we did all three. I improved the way I rode, the chassis helped with the tyre and we had a faster pace and less tyre wear, but ultimately I learnt in Round 8 that would be our lot for Round 9.”

Irwin also admits that this approach is something he has learnt from fellow countryman and five-time Superbike World champion Jonathan Rea, knowing that despite not finishing on the podium for the first time this season at Silverstone, he still holds the advantage in the standings.

“It was a case of what I have seen Jonathan Rea talk about before; about fighting the mini battle - that was Silverstone,” added Irwin. “I feel like we didn’t win the big battle at Silverstone, but we won the mini battle. We needed our rivals to self-destruct, but they outperformed us on the day, so hats off to them.”

The fight for the 2020 title now moves on to Oulton Park this weekend and Irwin is expecting another close-fought three rounds as the Championship reaches Cheshire, especially from the Ducati teams.

“I consider Silverstone to be a bit unique in the way that some bikes and riders were a set above, but I don’t feel that they won’t feature again at Oulton Park,” predicted Irwin. “I expect Yamaha to be competitive and I have seen enough of Kyle over the first three events that he will be competitive, but I think that Oulton Park is probably Ducati’s strongest circuit, or one of them.

“It is one that Josh has gone well historically at, its Christian’s local and he goes well at it, Tommy has a good track record there, so for sure the pressure will be on them to maximise what I think is a round where Ducati will score really highly across the board.

“For us, I can’t change what they do – I wish I could! But we can focus on ourselves and making the best out of what the Fireblade, which I feel like we have done at every round so far. We have some new parts as well to test, which is always exciting, so we have a bit of development to do throughout free practice.

“If I go and I concentrate on myself and keep this cool, calm attitude, and work closely with the team, the pressure is on the Ducati boys and I am excited to see what they can achieve, but I am also excited to see what we can achieve as well.”

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