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North West 200: Irwin angry after being left to lap up scraps as qualifying is cut short


Revved up: Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), Glenn Irwin (PBM Ducati) and Alastair Seeley on grid during first practice session

Revved up: Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), Glenn Irwin (PBM Ducati) and Alastair Seeley on grid during first practice session

Revved up: Michael Rutter (Bathams BMW), Glenn Irwin (PBM Ducati) and Alastair Seeley on grid during first practice session

A frustrated Glenn Irwin felt he was the big loser yesterday as the British Superbike rider was limited to a handful of laps on his Ducati.

Irwin was fourth fastest on the Italian machine after setting a speed of 113.452mph, but last year’s feature NW200 Superbike race winner was clearly unhappy after only completing three laps at racing speed.

The Superbike qualifying session was halted after approximately 20 minutes following a two-rider crash at University corner.

Event Director Mervyn Whyte said he intended to try and run the remainder of the session following practice for the Supertwins and Superstock classes prior to the roads opening time of 3pm, but the idea was later shelved as the clock ticked down.

Irwin is concentrating solely on the Superbike races at the international meeting, whereas key rivals such as Alastair Seeley and Michael Dunlop are competing in several classes and had the advantage of much more time on track yesterday.

The Carrickfergus man accepts that he won’t have the opportunity to complete as many qualifying laps in total compared to his chief challengers, but Irwin feels the opportunity existed yesterday to complete at least two more laps on his Ducati Superbike after the Superstock session.

“We could have gone out and done an out lap and then a lap, so being honest with you, I’d be better off at the Snetterton BSB test — that’s the way I see it,” Irwin said.

“I’m only riding the Superbike but you shouldn’t have to ride in other classes to be able to get enough laps for the required amount around here to be safe enough.

“They expect you to come here and put on a show for everyone on Saturday, but three laps on a dampish track earlier? We could easily do two laps around here now, which would take 10 minutes. I should have went to the gym today.

“It’s ridiculous. Why not even do a lap, two laps now — you could even test the stability of your bike. It’s just stupid.”

Irwin will now be praying for a dry day tomorrow as he bids to make up for lost time ahead of Saturday’s two seven-lap feature Superbike races.

He edged out 21-time winner Seeley in a sensational finale last year for his maiden victory at the North West and admits the buzz of winning that day remained with him for a long time afterwards.

“The buzz of this place doesn’t leave you and it has lingered around me all year, which I won’t complain about. It’s only really now that the nerves start to come but that is why we do this — we’re a different breed,” said Irwin.

“This place is just fantastic and I have done a lot of studying over the past week but I didn’t really want to think about it too much until after Oulton Park.

“I’ve really worked hard and I have noticed where other riders are stronger than me but also where I’m strong myself.

“I need to get my brain up to speed and try and chip away and be there on Saturday.

“There are so many riders in with a shout, all the top road racers and the likes of Peter Hickman, plus Michael Rutter — who I’ve looked up to as a kid — they’re all here and some others will throw their names into the hat as well.”

Belfast Telegraph