Glenn Irwin ended the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Championship in almost exactly the same manner as he’d started, the Honda Racing rider taking two wins at Brands Hatch at the weekend compared to the treble he’d taken at the season opener at Silverstone.
Irwin came into the final round with a slim chance of taking the title but, realistically, second overall in the championship was always his main target across the final races and with two wins and a third, he did exactly that to record his best ever finish in the championship.
Having previously had mixed fortunes on the Honda Fireblade at the Kent venue, Irwin was transformed at the weekend and pole position for Saturday’s Sprint race, signalled his intentions duly converting it into the race win.
It wasn’t enough to stop Bradley Ray from lifting the title but a start to finish victory ahead of Peter Hickman and brother Andrew was the perfect start to his weekend and he ended the year very much as the form man, scoring more points in the Showdown phase than any other rider.
“I did all I could, but it wasn’t enough to win the championship this year,” he said. “But we have to be realistic and Bradley (Ray) has outperformed me for the majority of the season and it’s probably only during the last few rounds where we have been on a par pace wise. But hats off to Brad, he’s a very deserving Champion, he’s a young lad who has a big future in this sport.
“The Fireblade was faultless this weekend and the bike developed all year long, the team working incredibly hard. In Saturday’s race, I felt I could have done another 100 laps out there and it was a thoroughly enjoyable race from start to finish and it’s always nice to look behind and see your younger brother on the podium, I definitely prefer looking behind and seeing him on the podium than looking ahead.
“We stagnated a bit after the opening round but once we changed the swingarm, which my team-mate Takumi had been running, it all came good. I also had some surgery on my shoulder which is something that hindered me. We then went to some physical tracks where we were able to fight, which showed that the bike had made a huge step but also physically I had.”
He went on to take third in Sunday’s opening race before claiming victory in the final race of 2022 – in what could also be his final race for Honda with a switch to MCE Ducati strongly rumoured – after another close battle with the Synetiq BMW pairing of brother Andrew and Danny Buchan.
“This weekend has been great, I did want three wins from three after victory on Saturday, but I fought hard for the third place. In the final race things felt good and we instantly went into tyre saving mode, but then I had to work hard and I had a clear target to take the lead. The wins are for my team, they have worked so hard this year and it’s nice to be able to reward them with two wins and second overall in the championship.”