Two wins and a second saw Glenn Irwin regain the British Superbike Championship lead at Oulton Park but he came crashing back to earth, literally, at the weekend failing to score a single point in the three races at Donington Park.
But what could have been a complete disaster for the BeerMonster Ducati rider was avoided with his main rivals all encountering varying degrees of misfortune at the Leicestershire venue.
Team-mate Tommy Bridewell now leads Irwin in the standings by 7.5pts with Kyle Ryde a further 27.5pts adrift but the meeting at Donington unravelled for Irwin once the racing got underway or, more specifically, once the heavens opened ahead of the opening race.
Tyre choice was crucial but both Irwin and Bridewell, as well as several of their championship rivals, all picked intermediates when full wets would have been the smarter choice.
“We had an idea of what the weather forecast was going to do but the slight delay in the schedule meant things changed and that led to a variety of opinions on what tyres to go with,” explained Irwin.
“There wasn’t much time to decide, and I perhaps could have been more assertive in saying what I wanted rather than asking the question of the team, but it was a chaotic race which led to a strange result.”
Irwin pulled in at the end of the first with Bridewell doing the same a few laps later but with OMG Racing’s Ryde only in 12th and Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) out of the points in 17th, the main beneficiary was Leon Haslam (ROKiT BMW Motorrad Team) who finished second behind Ryde’s team-mate Ryan Vickers.
However, if Irwin thought Saturday was bad then Sunday was even worse, the day starting with Bridewell collecting him under braking for the Melbourne Hairpin. The duo were running in first and second before spots of rain began to fall and that bunched the pack up as the pace dropped and a group of eight riders started tripping each other up.
It was as dramatic a crash as you could expect to see with Irwin remonstrating with Bridewell as he lay in the gravel trap, but both were back on the grid for the final race. Irwin was again out of luck though as he retired at just the first corner, but fortunes turned around again as Haslam retired from second, Bridewell could only manage ninth and second race winner Ryde was back in 12th once more.
O’Halloran won the race with the meeting ending with Bridewell back on top of the championship table from Irwin with Ryde back up to third. Haslam lies in fourth, 41 pts behind Bridewell, with Lee Jackson and O’Halloran the other two realistic title contenders at 43.5pts and 50.5pts adrift respectively although Josh Brookes (76 points behind Bridewell) and Christian Iddon (104pts) still have a mathematical chance.
“This weekend has highlighted the highs and lows of racing, particularly the latter but it’s part of the job and it’s left the championship on a knife edge,” said Irwin.
“I felt good in the first race and was pretty much in cruise mode until the spots of rain began to fall. The incident happened but I bear no resentment or negative energy, we put it behind us and moved on.”
“Unfortunately, a throttle sensor went in the last race, so we ended the weekend with no points, probably for the first time ever. The points table could have looked a lot different but I’m only 7.5pts behind Tommy and mentally I feel in a good place.”