Belfast Telegraph

Doors are opening for Carrickfergus warrior Glenn Irwin

By Paul Lindsay

The British Superbike and supporting championship classes head to Assen's TT Circuit in the Netherlands this weekend for round 10, with a local British Supersport battle guaranteed to add to the event headlines.

Carrickfergus warriors Alastair Seeley and Glenn Irwin sit third and fourth respectively in the British Supersport Championship table – but with just 10 points separating the young pretender and his former mentor, expect fireworks on track during Saturday and Sunday's action, at the aptly named 'Theatre of Dreams'.

Irwin laughs off suggestions of a bitter rivalry between himself and near neighbour Seeley.

But the former double Irish Supersport champion has had a terrific season thus far with Seeley's former team Gearlink Kawasaki, and the 24-year-old is gunning for third place, and Seeley, in the championship standings.

"Winning the championship is still mathematically possible," said Irwin, who trails series leader Billy McConnell (Smiths' Triumph) by some 69 points with three rounds, six races and a potential 150 points still up for grabs.

But he added: "Barring a major upset the championship is between the Smiths' Triumph boys McConnell and Gowland, so third place in the championship is a realistic goal, and I have to admit that beating Alastair – someone I've looked up to and admired for years – would be a terrific achievement."

Last season Irwin had an indifferent time with Seeley's current employers Mar-Train Racing, and in racing vernacular, 'crashed his brains out' on the Temple-based team's championship-winning R6 Yamaha.

But since swapping places with Seeley – who rode to second place in the championship with Gearlink Kawasaki last year – Irwin has taken three races wins and only failed to score in one of the opening 18 races this season.

It's an impressive record that hasn't gone unnoticed, as the young Carrick man explained: "I've been getting encouraging texts from Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike star), congratulating me, which is pretty cool. Every time I have a good result someone else rings about next year, which I'm not complaining about."

The happy-go-lucky Irwin is a confident character, but his unbridled enthusiasm was often mistaken last season as recklessness and over-exuberant cockiness. The hundred miles per hour chat is still there and part of his enthusiastic make up.

But he's matured, and that maturity has brought interest from a number of quarters for 2015. But what he has ruled out is a career in road racing, which has been making its way along the grapevine telegraph recently.

"I enjoyed riding at the Ulster Grand Prix and I went over and had a look at the TT circuit. But I'm a short circuit racer and enjoy the mass start stuff. The TT is not for me at the minute. But I'll never say never," Irwin explained.

So what of 2015?

Irwin's name has been linked to a potential British Superbike ride next year alongside Ben Wilson in his current Gearlink Kawasaki set-up. But one wonders should he stay and finish the job in Supersport first.

He certainly is a good motorcycle racer, but he'd make a terrible poker player, as he couldn't deny the Superbike rumours.

"It could be a possibility but I can't say too much about it. I always said that when I was winning races in Supersport and was right up there, I'd consider a Superbike ride as I think it would suit my size and style," he openly admitted.

But he concluded by adding: "I want to concentrate on finishing this year with the same consistency we started the season with, and hopefully that will include more wins.

"I'd be happy to stay with Gearlink next year and finish the job in British Supersport, but if a BSB option came up, of course I'd consider it."

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