Glenn Irwin fought his way into podium contention at Snetterton yesterday as the Carrick man increased his lead in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Irwin held a 10-point advantage over younger brother and Honda Racing team-mate Andrew going into the second round at the Norfolk track, but now leads the title battle by 14 points from England's Christian Iddon after finishing a close fourth in race one.
Englishman Iddon sealed his maiden BSB win on Paul Bird's VisionTrack Ducati by 1.3s from team-mate Josh Brookes, while Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Ducati) completed a Ducati clean-sweep as he only just beat Irwin for third.
There was more drama involving Andrew Irwin, who crashed out on the opening lap, bringing out the Safety Car. Irwin was involved in a clash with former BSB champion Brookes, who crashed out after contact between the two riders.
He was also excluded from the result at Donington - where he won the first two races of the season - and has now dropped to fourth place in the standings, 23 points behind Glenn going into today's two races (1.30pm and 4.30pm).
The championship leader qualified in fifth, but a mistake at the beginning of the race caused him to lose ground, leaving Irwin 10th on lap one. He battled his way through the field, setting the fastest lap in the process to secure pole position for race two today.
Irwin closed in on the battle for the podium but had to settle for fourth after a determined ride.
"We knew the Ducatis would be strong because they're the benchmark in Superbike racing across the world at the minute - we have to respect how early the Fireblade is in its life," said Irwin.
"There's a depth of teams with all different manufacturers, the privateer Ducati teams like MotoRapido are as competitive as the main team, there's good riders on every brand of machinery, which makes it more interesting. It makes our job a little bit harder, but that's what you want.
"It might be a case of coming away and grabbing as much as we can this weekend rather than maybe going out to chase some wins, but we'll be trying to close that gap."
Jack Kennedy from Dublin finished 17th after running off the track on the first lap, while Graeme Irwin came home in 20th position and Brian McCormack was 22nd. Keith Farmer missed out through injury after undergoing an operation on his shoulder yesterday following a crash in qualifying at Donington Park.
In the British Supersport Sprint race, Fermanagh's Lee Johnston claimed an excellent third place on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha behind Rory Skinner and Harry Truelove.
Johnston, who returned to short circuit racing in 2019, said: "It's just taken a bit of time to get out of the roads motions, but it's good to be back on the podium because the team's good enough to be winning and so is the bike."
North West 200 star Alastair Seeley finished eighth overall as he won the GP2 class.
Meanwhile, Spain's Pol Espargaro will start today's fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship from pole position at the Red Bull circuit in Austria for the GP of Styria.
It was confirmed yesterday that reigning champion Marc Marquez won't return to action for two to three months as he recovers from an arm injury sustained at Jerez in Spain in July.
Next weekend, the World Superbike Championship resumes at Motorland Aragon in Spain, when Jonathan Rea will be aiming to extend his title lead as he bids for a record sixth crown in-a-row.