Ambitious Irwin sets sights on a premier challenge
Glenn Irwin would be the first to admit that his British Supersport title aspirations for 2015 are all over bar the shouting.
But the Carrickfergus racer, who is rarely seen without that infectious smile on his face, is already looking ahead to 2016 and has his mind firmly set on a switch to the premier British Superbike class.
"I want to be on a competitive Superbike, as I think my riding style and my size are more suited to a big bike - so that's what my main focus will be," said Irwin.
This weekend, he will be at Oulton Park for round nine of the British Supersport series, but with a 91-point deficit to championship leader Luke Stapleford, catching rookie Kyle Ryde in second place is his only remaining goal this year.
"I don't want to make excuses for what has been a tough time since we took the lead in the championship at Knockhill," said Irwin, who has hid his disappointment well and shouldered much of the blame, despite a plethora of mechanical issues at Brands Hatch, Thruxton and Cadwell Park during July and August.
"I would never say anything to put the team down as racing is never straightforward, but Valentino Rossi would have struggled to save my crash at Brands."
Since then, Irwin has been dogged with gearbox problems and front-end feel on his Gearlink Kawasaki since the introduction of an evolutionary front fork upgrade.
"I'll openly admit that I didn't agree with the change to the new forks and the team won't mind me saying that," he explained.
"Even though we did put the old stuff back in, we have struggled with a number of other small problems, ones which really have ended our hopes of winning the championship."
Now 25 and a with a few years' experience in the British championship under his belt, for me, the double Irish champion is ready to make the transition to the Superbike class.
His loose and aggressive riding style and obvious strength and size make him a perfect candidate to join fellow Supersport peers Luke Mossey and Billy McConnell in BSB next term.
"I've enjoyed riding for Gearlink in Supersport, but I really do feel that I could at least match what Luke and Billy have been doing in the Superbike class this year," Irwin said of his tangible aspirations in the premier class.
With so many teams now bidding for international road racing stardom in May and June at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT, it could be another unique selling point for Irwin.
His more realistic wage demands as a series rookie may well make him that little bit more attractive to the leading BSB teams and their finite budgets.
"The TT is not for me yet, but I do believe that if I was on a competitive Superbike week-in, week-out in BSB, then there would be no reason why I wouldn't expect to be up there challenging at the North West 200 next May," said Irwin in a confident but calculated manner.
With so many of the British Superbike old guard just about justifying their wages, young Irwin's talent, enthusiasm and infectious personality could make him a big target for 2016.
Now, who is willing to take the gamble?