Su­per Ir­win sets North West six of the best record tar­get

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY ROY HAR­RIS

GLENN Ir­win, win­ner of both Su­per­bike races at last year’s In­ter­na­tional North West 200, will be gun­ning for a record six vic­to­ries at this year’s event.

Hav­ing made the switch from Du­cati to Kawasaki power for the 2018 British Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship, the 28 year old will race a Qu­at­tro Plant Wicked Coat­ings ZX10RR in both of the big bike races at Portrush on May 12-18.

Ir­win will also break new ground at the 90th an­niver­sary of the North Coast races by com­pet­ing on a stock ver­sion of Qu­at­tro Plant’s ZX10RR in both Su­per­stock races along­side rid­ing an ER6 Kawasaki for the CMS/KW Elec­tri­cal team in two Su­per­twins events.

The win­ner of the last three NW200 Su­per­bike races has never com­peted in ei­ther cat­e­gory on the roads be­fore but with six wins pos­si­ble from six starts, Ir­win says he is aim­ing high. “I am giv­ing my­self ev­ery chance to win six races at this year’s North West,” the Car­rick rider in­sists.

“It has never been done be­fore and I will be try­ing my hard­est to win ev­ery race I start in.”

In 1992, Phillip McCallen won five races in a day on the 8.9 mile Tri­an­gle course, los­ing out on a sixth vic­tory when he slid off at Church Bends whilst lead­ing the 250cc race. Never short on con­fi­dence and with his switch to Kawasaki com­plete, Ir­win be­lieves he can outdo that leg­endary feat.

“The ZX10RR is a lovely bike to ride and I think it will al­low me to bring some ag­gres­sion back into my rid­ing style and re­ally show what I can do,” he added.

Peter Ex­trance’s Kawasaki squad is rid­ing the crest of a con­fi­dence wave after win­ning this year’s British Su­per­bike ti­tle with Leon Haslam in the sad­dle.

“There is a vibe in the team that will bring out the best in me and after rid­ing in a test in Spain in Novem­ber I feel at home with the boys and part of ev­ery­thing al­ready,” said Ir­win.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously raced a Su­pers­port spec Kawasaki at the North West 200 and Ul­ster Grand Prix, his de­ci­sion to opt for the Su­per­twin class over the 600s might seem sur­pris­ing but Ir­win says it is a care­fully con­sid­ered de­ci­sion.

“I haven’t raced a 600 on the roads since 2016 and you have to ride very hard to win a Su­pers­port race, re­ally com­mit­ting to the cor­ners,” he ex­plains.

“I al­ways try to err on the side of safety on the roads and hav­ing re­ally en­joyed rac­ing and win­ning on a Su­per­twin at the Sun­flower meet­ing in Oc­to­ber I want to race one at the North West.”

Ir­win now heads off to Spain to be­gin a new train­ing regime ahead of the 2019 sea­son. “It is all about prepa­ra­tion,” he ex­plains. “I will be rid­ing mo­tocross, do­ing some cy­cling and lots of fit­ness train­ing be­fore we start test­ing in March.”

Ir­win, who fin­ished third in last sea­son’s BSB se­ries on the PBM Du­cati, is de­ter­mined to be race ready for his 2019 NW200 and BSB chal­lenges.

“When I raced at last year’s North West I had a lot in hand,” he says. “Even when I made a mis­take in the first race I had such a big lead that I wasn’t un­der real pres­sure but it might be dif­fer­ent this year. All road races are very com­pet­i­tive now and al­though I will be stronger in 2019, so will the oth­ers.”

STEPHEN DAV­I­SON

Cracker Kwacker: Glenn Ir­win on his new Kawasaki

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