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Andrew wins battle of the Irwin brothers as thrilling opening race at Donington goes down to the wire

 

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Andrew Irwin celebrates victory in the British Superbike Championships

Andrew Irwin celebrates victory in the British Superbike Championships

Andrew Irwin celebrates victory in the British Superbike Championships

Carrickfergus brothers Andrew and Glenn Irwin stole the show yesterday as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship got under way at Donington Park, almost four months later than scheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Honda Racing team-mates could not have asked for a better debut on the new Fireblade machine as they finished first and second at the Leicestershire circuit, with Andrew making a daring pass on his older brother to snatch victory on the final lap.

Glenn was unable to retaliate, leaving Andrew to clinch his second BSB win for the Honda team, coming a year after his first victory in the class at Thruxton.

At the finishing line, there was only 0.119s between them, with Australian rider Josh Brookes in third, crossing the line 0.8s down on the race winner on his VisionTrack Ducati.

Brookes' team-mate, Christian Iddon, finished in fourth, with Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) and Luke Mossey (OMG Racing BMW) rounding out the first six.

A delighted Andrew said: "I got a good start and got stuck in. I believed in myself and it's just amazing. I can't thank Honda enough.

"To ride so close with Glenn… I was just so scared to pass him! I thought about it and looked at it the lap before, and I knew if I was in that position that I'd be able to do it."

Glenn, who was making his debut for the team, was magnanimous in defeat.

"We've come home with a one-two and it's been a long time since I've been on the podium, so it's been a tough road but I want to thank everyone who has stayed in my corner," he said.

"It was a really good, fun race and we have to remember that it's the first race in British Superbikes for the new Fireblade.

"It's different to pass your team-mate, never mind your brother and team-mate, but he rode a great race and made a nice move on the last lap."

Graeme Irwin, who was making his BSB debut, slid off unhurt on his Kawasaki.

In the first British Supersport race, former champion Alastair Seeley crashed out unscathed on his GP2 machine.

Korie McGreevy finished eighth ahead of Ross Patterson and Richard Kerr, while Lee Johnston was 11th.

Two more BSB races will be held today at 1.45pm and 4.30pm (UK time).

Belfast Telegraph