BeerMonster Ducati’s Glenn Irwin reclaimed the lead in the British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park at the weekend, the first time he’s led the series since Knockhill in June.
In an emotional, and highly charged, weekend – the first since team owner Paul Bird passed away – Irwin took two wins and a second to overhaul team-mate Tommy Bridewell at the top of the standings albeit by just half a point.
He kickstarted the weekend with victory in Saturday’s Sprint race when he was only headed at one corner on the penultimate lap and with Bridewell taking to the slip road at Hizzy’s on the final lap, it put him in the ascendancy.
“It was so nice to lead Saturday’s race from start to finish, or at least 99% of it and the plan worked,” he said. “The bike was so good, especially on the brakes, and I made the perfect start, assessing and managing the race from there on in.”
“Tommy’s so strong around Oulton so to force him into a mistake on the final lap and come out on top shows how strong I rode. It’s tough fighting your team-mate for the title but, at the same time, we’re professional riders who want the same thing so you must take whatever advantage you can get. That one was for the Birdman.”
If Saturday was dramatic, then Sunday even more so and with the stakes rising, it threatened to boil over with hard racing on track and hard words off it, some of which both riders will no doubt regret.
But the end result for Northern Ireland’s Irwin was another win in the first race of the day, after Bridewell’s three second penalty, and a second in the final race with the weekend seeing him turn a 14.5-point deficit into a half point advantage.
“I couldn’t have expected anymore from the weekend and with two wins and a second, it’s been unbelievable,” he exclaimed. “There was obviously a lot of emotion, but everyone handled it well and put on a show and it pleases me how hard the guys worked and how I rode all weekend.”
“To come back from 34 points adrift a few races ago to be in the lead is really good especially as I’ve had one additional DNF but hats off to Tommy in the final race.
"He rode perfectly in the final laps and when I saw +0.8 on my board, I settled for second and 22 points so with two wins and a second, it’s a great start to the final three rounds. I never expected to pull pack 15 points back this weekend and I have a lot to be grateful for.”