Glenn Irwin battles to victory in a day of thrills and spills
In tricky conditions yesterday at Brands Hatch, 24-year old Glenn Irwin from Carrickfergus scored his maiden British Supersport Championship race victory from pole position on the grid and, in a terrific race for local riders, fellow Carrick rider Alastair Seeley came home in third having started from the fifth row of the grid.
Riding for the Gearlink Kawasaki Team that Seeley rode for last season, Irwin made the perfect start from pole and was never out of the leading trio throughout the 18-lap sprint race.
Luke Jones and Jake Dixon harried and hounded Irwin, but the ex-double Irish Supersport champion had all angles covered.
On the final lap, Dixon high-sided out of contention and Irwin held on to win by a 10th of a second with Seeley inheriting third after Dixon's demise, six seconds adrift of the pair at the front.
An emotional Irwin said afterwards: "That was a fantastic race and must have been great for TV. I had a simple game plan -- anyone who got past me, I would repass them right away and it worked."
A surprised Seeley commented: "My qualifying was a bit dismal, as I'd never ridden the Mar Train Yamaha in the wet until this morning and we could not get a good feel with the bike. The team worked on the bike before the race and we were gifted third. I was actually on my way back to the paddock when they directed me towards the podium. I managed a good lap in the race and will start higher up the grid for Monday's second race."
In 13th position was Eglington rider David Allingham, the second Evo machine home.
Newtownards based Australian Josh Brookes will start today's British Superbike first race of the season from pole position on his Milwaukee Yamaha despite three crashes in treacherous conditions during the three wet qualifying sessions yesterday.
Brookes said: "I never rode a bike in such lethal conditions in my racing life -- to get pole after three crashes is amazing and it's thanks to the team that they got the bike repaired ready for each session."
Michael Dunlop, on his debut for Buildbase BMW, was second fastest in the first qualifying session dropping to 13th in session two in which he crashed out unhurt and now starts today's first race from the fifth row of the grid.
In the final session, Keith Farmer crashed out uninjured and starts from 10th on a topsy- turvey grid with many of the fancied riders crashing in the conditions and not posting good qualifying times.
On Saturday at Bishopscourt, David Haire emerged as winner of the Enkalon Trophy after taking two wins in the counting Superbike races. Haire went on to complete a treble by winning the opening Supersport race.
In the second race, Karl Phillips edged out Keith Amor who went on to complete a winning double in the Supertwin races, leading home his new SGS International KMR Kawasaki team boss Ryan Farquhar each time.
Today's action moves up the Co Down coast to Kirkistown for the traditional Easter Monday meeting with the Mayor's Trophy the main silverware on offer with racing from 1pm while the Ulster Motocross Championship kicks off with the opening round at Desertmartin from 11am.