Irwin hails his first BSB win as one for the team
Andrew Irwin was the toast of Thruxton yesterday when the youngest of the Carrickfergus racing brothers won his first ever British Superbike race in one of the best races of the season.
The race saw eight riders dice for the lead around the ultra-fast 2.356-mile Hampshire circuit, and he backed up his win with a fighting second position in race two.
It was also Honda's first win at Thruxton since 2012 when another Ulsterman, Ian Lowry, triumphed while riding for Padgetts Honda.
In a sensational 20-lap opener, Irwin, Jason O'Halloran and Peter Hickman all took turns leading around the fastest BSB circuit on the calendar as the chasing pack also swapped places lap-by-lap, shuffling positions into the final chicane time and time again.
At the chequered flag, Irwin was a quarter of a second ahead of Championship leader Scott Redding, Josh Brookes, O'Halloran and Ulster Grand Prix-bound Hickman.
Irwin, a very popular rider, said at the end of a successful day: "I'm delighted, that's my best weekend of racing ever.
"I don't think anyone expected that. It is a dream come true and it has been a tough road to get here.
"We had done our homework and then in the warm-up I followed Josh (Brookes) and picked up a few lines.
"It is great to repay Honda, who put their faith in me this season, and all the people who have supported me along the way right from my younger days with these results."
His brother Glenn, on his Tyco BMW debut, finished in 11th, having ran inside the top 10 until his tyres went off.
The second race was stopped twice, first for a slight rain shower and then when Glenn Irwin crashed out at the chicane with the Tyco BMW on fire in the middle of the track.
Glenn said: "It was my fault, I made a mistake.
"I touched a kerb and crashed when I thought I could catch the riders in front of me."
After an hour delay to clear the Tyco BMW oil spillage, an eight-lap blinder of a race saw Brookes clear off at the front with some hell for leather racing for the final podium places.
Hickman and Andrew Irwin had a bit of fair bashing at one stage, but in the final dash to the chequered flag the latter just pipped the former for second, with Redding (who took the chequered flag second) docked 15 seconds for missing the chicane on lap five.
It was Andrew Irwin's weekend with the Carrickfergus rider named Rider of the Day, and moving inside the all-important top six in the Championship for the first time.
Jack Kennedy was beaten twice in the British Supersport races, but as it was the GP2 machine of Kyle Ryde who won both times, he still scooped maximum points to extend his Championship lead to 47 points over Alastair Seeley, now in third position behind Brad Jones in the series after fifth and ninth-place finishes.
The ninth place came after he had to take the long lap penalty for passing under a safety car intervention.
√ Glanmire, Co Cork was the venue for the Munster 100, the latest of the Irish national road races, yesterday where Derek Sheils and Michael Sweeney were both double winners around the 2.980-mile circuit.
Sheils scored a Superbike double to add the Irish Superbike title to the Ulster crown he won last weekend at Armoy.
The roads action now heads to Dundrod for the fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix, where practice starts on Wednesday morning.
√ Marc Marquez bagged his sixth win of the campaign in Brno in the Czech Republic to extend his MotoGP World Championship lead to 63 points.
The Spanish star held off both Andrea Dovizioso and Alex Rins to storm to victory.
Marquez turned his pole position into another routine win, holding the lead for the entire race.
The 26-year-old Repsol Honda ace takes that extended lead into next weekend's race in Austria.