Irwin brothers fired up for glory
Andrew Irwin has carried the mental baggage of a missed podium opportunity in the British Supersport class since Assen in the Netherlands at the back end of last season. But having finally exorcised his demons with a fine second place during round one at Donington Park just a fortnight ago, this hard-charging, yet articulate and affable, young Ulsterman is now ready to offer up a strong title challenge.
The Irwin family need little or no introduction to local racing circles, with dad Alan - no mean performer himself - setting a solid foundation for his sons to follow in his footsteps.
At Donington Park, Andrew's debut podium in the British Supersport class with Gearlink Kawasaki was boosted by brother Glenn taking yet another podium in the premier British Superbike class with BeWiser Ducati.
Fast-talking, hard-charging, confidence-fuelled, win-at-all-costs are customary traits that both Irwin brothers possess. Gung-ho in the past, Andrew is now smoothing off the rough edges and if he can find the consistency required there's no-one better equipped to take a strong title challenge to current champion Tarran Mackenzie this season in British Supersport.
"It was good to finally get that debut win out of the way at round one. But more importantly and pleasing for me was being consistently on the pace in all sessions and all conditions," said the 22-year-old from Carrick.
Reflecting he added: "I've a season under my belt now after my debut year in the class and I've learned a lot. The goal was always to be in those podium positions and now that we've secured one in the first race of the year, I just want to be in that lead group fighting for them all season - regardless of the step we are on.
"Of course I want wins, but I'm not going to force them; I just want to try and remain consistent," was how the maturing rider put it.
Giving credit to his Gearlink Kawasaki team - who despite having had Ben Wilson, Alastair Seeley and Andrew's brother Glenn on their books previously, have failed to land the middleweight class holy grail - he said: "There's a great atmosphere in the team and I'm really pleased how the bike has improved on last season, and with these podiums, everyone's spirits are high."
Despite having a full-time job, Andrew has become more time-conscious and adapted his training programme, which by his own admission needed an intensity increase if he was to fulfil his goal of eventually racing full time and winning championships.
"Before, I thought I was fit but I wasn't fit enough," he offered openly. "I can now enjoy training with Glenn without it killing me."
The second round of the British Supersport Championships takes place on Easter Sunday and Monday at Brands Hatch.