In-form Glenn Irwin has plenty to smile about on and off the circuit
A debut British Superbike podium at Thruxton and the added bonus of recently becoming a new dad have left Glenn Irwin both at the top of his game and on top of the world.
The BeWiser PBM Ducati rider from Carrickfergus is now ready for the next challenge, which comes in the form of Kent's Brands Hatch GP circuit this coming weekend, during round seven of the British Superbike Championship.
The series rookie, who also tested at Cadwell Park last week for the first time on his Superbike, explained: "It was absolutely class to be on the podium at Thruxton in race two and even nicer to share it with Michael Laverty, who I've looked up to since I started short circuit racing."
The experienced Laverty may have taken top spot but Irwin's fight back - coming from 14th place on lap three to eventually take third - made more than team boss Paul Bird sit up and take notice.
Laughing as he recounted his memorable debut BSB podium, the 26-year-old said: "I didn't think much about it coming through the pack until I came upon Leon Haslam. I respect all the riders, but passing him I thought for a split second, 'that's Leon Haslam'!" smiled Irwin, who is much a fan as a competitor.
"They are all there to be beaten, but I still look up to all of those guys, like Leon, Michael Laverty and of course my team-mate Shakey Byrne. I sometimes can't believe I'm racing with them, but once the visor goes down we are all there to try and win," said Irwin.
The key to success for a newcomer in the Superbike class is to listen and learn, and do it quickly; something that Irwin has put it into practice both on and off the track this season, where he is rapidly showing increased maturity.
"It helps that I'm in an experienced team," he said modestly. "But what I have learned this year is that you don't need to constantly turn a bike upside down looking for the perfect set-up. At times as a rider you need to be honest with yourself and make the changes to your riding style or level of commitment and leave the bike alone."
Looking ahead to this weekend at Brands Hatch, the former double Irish Supersport champion explained: "My goal is to make Qualifying 3 on Saturday, as that means you qualify in the top nine and would give me a row three, at worst, grid position."
With the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix getting underway next week, and his previous laments of missing out this season with PBM Ducati, Irwin admits fatherhood has changed his mindset.
"Dundrod is a superb circuit and I will miss riding there massively, but I have to be honest, since Freddie came along, I have started to re-evaluate things," he said.
"There's a massive mutual respect amongst road racers and I love that side of it, but my mindset has changed. I look at Freddie every morning now and having him has changed my opinion. I would never, ever knock road racing and if I never do it again I have two podiums to look back on. But we will see."