Irwin happy to throw down the gauntlet to his Superbike rivals
The outright lap record for the 8.97-mile Triangle circuit was unofficially shattered by Glenn Irwin as he nailed pole position for both Superbike races.
With seven minutes left in the final qualifying session, Irwin took the Quattro Plant Wicked Coatings Kawasaki around in 4m 21.767secs with a speed of 123.362mph, a third of a second inside Michael Dunlop’s 2016 lap record of 123.207mph.
Irwin said: “It’s only pole, but it is so important to me. I had a poor Tuesday qualifying — in fact, I was in tears. However, I came with a different attitude and a couple of changes to the bike by the team showed just what we are capable of.”
On the third lap of the session, Dean Harrison initially broke the record with a 123.265mph lap, at that stage 2.609secs ahead of the field led by Irwin and Dunlop.
Alastair Seeley on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati V4RR took up the challenge in going second, but still two seconds off Harrison, before Irwin responded by breaking Harrison’s time with seven minutes remaining on the clock.
Peter Hickman will start the Superstock races from pole position after a lap of 122.502mph, with Irwin at 121.745mph over one and a half seconds back and his team-mate James Hillier third at 121.476mph.
Seeley held on to pole for the Supersport races with his Tuesday time. Johnston almost toppled the EHA Yamaha rider, taking his Ashcourt Yamaha to within 0.005sec, with the Silicone Kawasaki of Harrison completing the front row.
It was a KMR Kawasaki 1-2 in the Supertwin session with McGee a tenth of a second faster than Michael Rutter, but the pair will start second and third as they did not beat the earlier time of Jamie Coward in pole.