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Irwin brothers Glenn and Andrew relishing quest for British Superbike glory

 

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On track: Glenn Irwin

On track: Glenn Irwin

On track: Glenn Irwin

The opening round of the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship finally gets under way at Donington Park this weekend, four months later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic - and there is a strong Irish contingent ready to do battle.

Carrickfergus duo Glenn and Andrew Irwin will line up on a pair of all-new Honda Fireblades for an attack on the main Championship and, after a successful Donington test last week - both were inside the top five in overall classification - expectations will be high.

Andrew commented: "We probably didn't expect to be as close to the front as we were (a quarter of a second covered the top eight riders), which is a nice feeling.

"My consistency is good and I have a good race pace, so I'm feeling strong and cannot wait to get back out in competitive action. The only downside is that no spectators are allowed at Donington, which is a shame."

Moving up to BSB after his double British Supersport Championship success, Jack Kennedy will be keen to make his mark, as will Keith Farmer, the oldest of the Irwin brothers Graeme, and Brian McCormack.

Synetiq BMW Motorrad's Bradley Ray and Taylor Mackenzie will be looking to give the Hector and Philip Neill team a lift after a couple of lean seasons for the Moneymore-based side.

Alastair Seeley has opted for the GP2 class this season for the Quattro Plant team, who were to back him at the North West 200 before its cancellation, and he will be among the favourites on the ARD Triumph.

Korie McGreevy, Richard Kerr and Lee Johnston chase Supersport honours in the concurrently-run classes in which some 10 local riders will participate.

Missing will be Andy Reid, who is recovering from a test-day crash.

The Honda British Talent Cup has a wealth of young talent, as has the Superstock 600cc class where the John Laverty-managed Massingberd Mundy Kawasaki/Affinity Sports Team has a number of riders, including the McManus brothers Eugene and James, chasing top honours.

Meanwhile, the World Superbike series continues at the Algarve Autodrome today and tomorrow with the third round of the Championship on one of the most undulating tracks.

Jonathan Rea, chasing his sixth Championship in succession, had a mixed time in Spain with a win, a second and a sixth. He trails series leader Scott Redding by 24 points.

Rea has a strong record at Portimao having won no fewer than nine races there, eight of them for the Kawasaki Racing Team.

The 33-year-old from Templepatrick said: "Portimao has been kind to us in the past and suits our bike. I enjoy the challenge of the circuit with its undulations. The blind corners, ups and downs take a lot of rider input and set-up to make a perfect lap. Things were working pretty okay at Jerez and our goal is to improve the feeling and work towards the races and at the end the target is wins."

After a tough Jerez, Eugene Laverty will be looking for a change of fortune at what is now his home track, living just a short distance from the venue.

Eunan McGlinchey, after a sound start to his Supersport 300 Championship season, will make qualifying for the main races his No.1 target on the Team #109 Kawasaki after narrowly missing out in Jerez.

MotoGP is also back at Brno with defending champion Marc Marquez missing from the grid after a second operation on his broken arm sustained in Jerez during the opening round.

Belfast Telegraph