Irwin Racing continued their British Superbike Championship adventure with their longest weekend of the season, as they travelled the massive distance from Kilmacrennan County Donegal to the most southerly venue on the British Superbike Championship calendar, the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit, last weekend (August 3rd – 5th).
Tackling yet another new track both Rhys and Caolán Irwin were looking for more solid performances as they and the team continue their debut season competing at the highest level of British Motorcycle Racing.
The Thruxton track is fast and flowing for most of a lap but also includes some very heavy braking for its slow chicanes, this along with its high grip levels and abrasive surface makes it one of the most technically challenging tracks in the UK. Going there for the first time the team had a lot to learn about gearing, suspension set up and tyre preservation, particularly with the extremely high temperatures recorded over the weekend.
Riding in the Superstock 600 class, Caolán adapted quickly to the new environment and improved his times gradually over the weekend to close the gap to the fastest riders from one and a half seconds in the first session to under a second in the race. A slight step backwards in qualifying left him starting ninth but an improvement in the pre-race warm up put the Oasis Bar and Clean Rubber backed rider back on the front foot.
In the race a good start saw him rise to fifth place, but the difficulties of controlling tyre wear in the heat on the abrasive track surface saw his tyres lose performance in the latter stages, dropping him to ninth. Both rider and team were still happy with this result and the points collected helped the twenty year old maintain his impressive eighth place in the championship.
Rhys Irwin was once again in action on his Motorcycling Ireland Moto3 machine at Thruxton and like older brother Caolán it was his first experience of the venue. The team worked hard all weekend to find a set up to allow him run at the pace of the front runners but struggled to find gearing to suit the very fast and very slow sections of the track. In the end two more top ten finishes, eighth in race one and ninth in race two were salvaged from a difficult weekend.
Rhys and Caolán Irwin head to the more familiar surroundings of Cadwell Park for their next race in two weeks aiming to use their track knowledge to continue their progress towards the front of the field.