Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn and Andrew Irwin created history by becoming the first brothers in the history of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship to start a race from the front row of the grid following today’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s seventh round of the series at Thruxton in Hampshire.
Elder brother Glenn took his second successive pole position with the Northern Irishman seeing off the challenge of Luke Mossey by 0.032s with further celebration for Paul Bird’s Lake District team coming when younger sibling Andrew claimed a brilliant third place and first front row position in just his fourth BSB meeting.
28-year-old Glenn had a good opening day yesterday on the factory-backed Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R as he set the second fastest time in the second free practice session, but he signalled his intentions for the weekend this morning when he became the first rider to dip beneath the 1m 15s barrier. Indeed, his time of 1m 14.821s made him the quickest rider overall heading into the afternoon’s qualifying session and put him 0.4s ahead of his nearest rival.
The opening section of qualifying, Q1, saw the Carrickfergus rider post the fourth quickest time to move into Q2 and, circulating with 23-year-old brother Andrew, he lapped inside the class lap record to go second quickest although it was Andrew that was at the top of the leaderboard. However, in Q3 it was Glenn that came out on top and although he lost a bit of time on his first flying lap, his second of 1m14.565s saw him take his second Bennetts BSB pole position.
Andrew, meanwhile, was having his maiden Superbike outing at the 2.35-mile circuit and he posted the tenth quickest time across the three free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday. He immediately bettered his previous best time of the weekend with a lap of 1m 15.388s in Q1 which placed him sixth on the leaderboard and enabled him to comfortably progress to Q2.
It was here when he posted a sensational lap time of 1m 14.346s – four tenths of a second inside the class lap record of six-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – to top the times ahead of the final Q3 session. Although he was unable to repeat those heroics, he was only a tenth of a second slower than Glenn, with Kawasaki’s Mossey sandwiched in between, and he’ll line up for tomorrow’s opening race on the front row.
Glenn Irwin: “It’s really nice to take pole position again and even better to have two Be Wiser Ducatis on the front row. We’ve constantly been improving the bike all weekend and the lap in Q2 felt good although I could see Andrew had gone even quicker. In Q3, we were all circulating together, and Leon Haslam made a mistake in front of me which cost me time, but I dug deep on the second lap to put in another decent lap which was good enough for pole and am feeling good ahead of tomorrow’s races.”
Andrew Irwin: “When I was following Glenn in Q2, I didn’t think I had the pace to stay with him for the whole lap so when I saw the time on my dash, I was ecstatic! Glenn’s been a real big help these last couple of weeks and we’ve been training together a lot so I’m reaping the benefits now. I feel like I’m in a good place ahead of tomorrow’s races but tyre wear, as always, will be crucial. Two top tens are again the aim, but I obviously want more so I need to stay calm in the early laps and look after the tyres as best as I can so we’re still there in the second half of the race.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It was a good qualifying session for the team and it’s been a good weekend so far with both riders making steady progress throughout the two days. Glenn’s side of the garage have been making constant improvements to the bike and even made a couple of tweaks ahead of Q3 so to take his second pole position on the bounce is terrific. We’ll look at a few more things in morning warm up to try and make the balance of the bike that little better and, hopefully have two strong races. I’m running out of words for Andrew and at every round he’s simply getting better. Glenn gave him a bit of a tow in Q2, but the rider must ride the bike and the bike still has to be capable of doing the speeds so to be sitting here now with the fastest lap of the weekend is testament to him. It’s Be Wiser’s home round so to have two bikes on the front row is brilliant for them too.”
Sunday’s two 20-lap races are scheduled to get underway at 1.30pm and 4.30pm.
1 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m14.565s
2 Luke Mossey (Kawasaki) 1m14.597s
3 Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m14.682s
4 Josh Brookes (Yamaha) 1m14.758s
5 Bradley Ray (Suzuki) 1m14.829s
6 Jake Dixon (Kawasaki) 1m15.026s
Pictures attached (Double Red) – Glenn Irwin (2) and Andrew Irwin (18)