Glenn Irwin eyes podium finish on North West 200 debut
Glenn Irwin may be better known for his British championship exploits as a front runner in the Supersport class, but the Carrickfergus racer has his sights set on matching road racing legend Bruce Anstey, by standing on the top step of a North West 200 podium on his debut next week.
"I'm confident I can win on my debut," said Irwin, who currently holds fourth place in this season's British Supersport Championship with Gearlink Kawasaki.
"I've made my intentions clear: I want a result in my first year at the North West. Bruce Anstey won on his debut there, and while I'm no Bruce Anstey, he did prove that it's not impossible to win in your first year."
In the past, British championship front-runners have proven that the transition to road racing, and success at the Vauxhall International North West 200, does not require the same apprenticeship reserved for the Isle of Man TT.
In 2013 BSB front runner Josh Brookes set a new lap record mark for a newcomer on his debut, and last season Peter Hickman raised that bar even higher on his first appearance at the seaside circuit. Brookes then went on to set the absolute lap record last year with Milwaukee Yamaha, and with Supersport and Supertwin machinery at his disposal, young Irwin is planning on a podium visit at the very least.
"I spoke to Michael Rutter at Brands Hatch recently and I was joking with him that he has to be my North West mentor,' said Irwin, after the 13-time North West 200 winner joined the Gearlink Kawasaki to ride the team's Superbike in British championship.
Explaining Rutter's advice, Irwin said: "Michael told me the NW200 track isn't too hard to learn and that he will give me some tips on slipstreaming."
Irwin will also benefit from the vast experience of his father, Alan, who raced the North West in the '80s and '90s, and is always by his side in British championship.
"All the knowledge that Dad gained at the North West 200, and having him in my corner is brilliant," said the 25-year-old, who was honest enough to admit that his father Alan would have preferred he stuck to circuit racing.
"There's no doubt he would probably have preferred that I hadn't gone road racing, but his advice has been invaluable and it certainly worked for me at the Ulster," said the youngster who made an auspicious debut at Dundrod last year.
Preparation is the key to success in any profession, and Irwin admits he will also spend time with a sports psychologist.
"At the top level in most sports all of the main guys are using them. I know I have to be in the right mindset to be competitive at the North West and if I can get it right, don't be surprised to see me on the podium."