Glenn Irwin says he is proud to have mounted a championship-challenging performance this season despite missing out on a first BSB title by the smallest of margins.
Runner-up to Brad Ray last season, Irwin’s switch from Honda Racing to the BeerMonster Ducati team would see him mount his strongest bid yet in a season-long battle with team-mate Tommy Bridewell that went down to the wire at Brands Hatch.
Despite grinding out two victories during the finale, Bridewell would do just enough to resist the Ulsterman by a mere half-a-point. While Irwin couldn’t hide his disappointment at falling just short of title glory, saying he has made an evident step forward in 2023.
“I tried everything this year,” he told the BSB website. “I am in the best shape of my life physically and it has been a complete turn around - I feel like a different person, but to the person from years ago before the troubles.”
A simmering rivalry that would tense as the season deepened - before erupting when they clashed controversially at the penultimate Donington Park round - Irwin insists he and Bridewell retain respect for one another, adding that he appreciates the tribute it pays to Tommy’s brother, Ollie Bridewell, who died in 2007 while competing in BSB.
“It has been an incredible fight with Tommy. It got heated but it is top level sport, so riders and families want the same thing in the same garage and we’re both big characters - we shoot from the hip and say things we shouldn’t say and probably regret afterwards but I have a ton of respect for him.
“He is the toughest team-mate I have ever had, so to go like we have to experience a championship that has come down to half-a-point, you get your name in history and a few more quid in the bank...
“I gave it everything, I don’t know how much happier I would have been than I am now because you can’t do more than give it everything. We know the Bridewell story and I am a bike fan too, so hats off to him because he deserves to win for Ollie.”