Causeway Chronicle

GLENN IRWIN SETS HIS SIGHTS ON BECOMING THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SUPERBIKE RACER AT 2024 BRIGGS EQUIPMENT NORTH WEST 200

Glenn Irwin, the winner of the last eight Superbike races at the Briggs Equipment North West 200, is fired up for a record-breaking performance at this year’s event on May 6-11.

“We took some solid points during the first BSB round at Navarra last weekend on a track that we expected to be a difficult one for us.” Last season’s runner-up in the series explained as he opened a new building at the Lisburn headquarters of Briggs Equipment this week.

“Now we are looking forward to Oulton with the focus on showing how competitive we are on a track that suits our bike. That should set us up to go into the North West on a good feeling.”

The 34 year old says he is determined to make a strong impact on his Hager PBM Ducati during this year’s qualifying sessions at Portrush.

“One thing I would love to do at this year’s North West is to turn around my practice form.” the Carrickfergus man explained.

“Last year we qualified on the third row after a terrible Tuesday, putting myself under pressure. I know what the bike, team and myself are capable of but I’d like to discover that earlier in the week just to settle my mind.”

The 2024 BSB programme has forced the NW200 organisers to alter this year’s race week schedule. The opening practice sessions will take place on Wednesday rather than the traditional Tuesday start with final qualifying on Thursday morning and three races run during the evening.

“Mervyn Whyte has given the rest of the field an extra chance to beat me with the new race.” Irwin smiles before suggesting the introduction of a four lap Superbike race on Thursday evening might work in his favour.

“In the past my schedule at the North West has been Tuesday and Thursday morning qualifying and then nothing until Saturday while the other guys have been racing on Thursday evening. Sometimes I’ve started Saturday a bit rusty because of that, so the Thursday sprint race might help me.”

Against a Superbike line-up that will include Peter Hickman, Davey Todd, Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop, Irwin knows he will have to be on top of his game if he is to achieve his aim of winning all three Superbike races this time around to maintain his phenomenal unbeaten run in the class.

Irwin’s rivals will be determined to bring the Carrickfergus racer’s Superbike dominance to a close and the introduction of a new Milwaukee Tools sponsored prize fund, which will give the top three riders with the best performances over all three Superbike races an opportunity to scoop an extra £10,000 in prize money, will provide an extra incentive.

Interestingly, Irwin says he also expects his Carrickfergus neighbour and one of his principal NW200 foes, Alastair Seeley, to be amongst the opposition this year despite the 29 times North West winner’s difficulty in acquiring suitable machinery for the event.

Seeley was a top ten finisher at Navarra in the British Supersport series after signing an eleventh hour deal to compete in the championship with Binch Racing. The 44 year old has said he was “letting the North West 200 go for this year” but Irwin still thinks Seeley will be on the grid at Portrush come race week.

“Having known Alastair as a friend, a mentor and a rival, he has never been one to let slip what he has lined up.” Irwin says.

“That is understandable in the dog-eat-dog world of racing but I’ve heard various rumours and I fully expect him to be at the North West.”

Regardless of who is alongside him on the grid in two weeks time, Irwin is determined to become the North West’s most successful Superbike racer by winning all three big bike races in 2024. The spotlight may be on the Carrickfergus man but he isn’t fazed by the attention.  

“When you are on a run like I have had at the North West the target is big.” he says as he sets his sights on surpassing the record tally of nine Superbike victories shared by Michael Rutter and the late, Joey Dunlop on the 8.9 mile Triangle course.

“I understand it because if I was one of my rivals I would be obsessed with beating me. Not winning all three races this year would be a disappointment and equalling the record just won’t be good enough. I couldn’t retire from the North West without beating the record.”

Irwin also paid tribute to one of his fiercest North West rivals who has his eyes set on achieving another slice of road racing history during 2024.

“This promises to be a big year in the sport’s history and I hope I achieve my goal at the North West and Michael Dunlop becomes the Isle of Man TT’s most successful racer.” Irwin says.

“We are very different characters and we both have had our struggles but I look up to Michael in many ways.”

Irwin is convinced his fellow Northern Irishman, who has notched up 25 TT victories, will surpass his uncle Joey’s tally of 26 wins in 2024.

“Absolutely he will and deservedly so.” Irwin says.

“As someone who has done the TT, I can say that what Michael has achieved there is phenomenal against a serious level of riders across different eras and I applaud him for it.”

Causeway Chronicle

Causeway Chronicle