Oulton BSB: Irwin hits first hurdle as points lead slashed to two

| | British Superbikes
Picture: Impact Images

After a superb set of results at the first three meetings, Oulton Park was the first major hurdle, from the outside at least, that Honda Racing’s Glenn Irwin has encountered in the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.

Having taken the lead in the title standings at round one at Donington Park, the Carrickfergus rider had increased it at both Snetterton and Silverstone, the latter despite not finishing on the podium in any of the races.

But Oulton was where he and the new Honda Fireblade came slightly unstuck for the first time with his first DNF of the season and fifth and sixth place finishes seeing his lead slashed from 35 points to just two as double race winner Jason O’Halloran mounted a serious attack.

“It’s been a difficult weekend and I was a bit unlucky to have to retire in the second race when I felt a bad vibration and had to pull in,” the Northern Irishman said.

“I was trying to stay as consistent as I could and stay in the fifth and sixth place area but with not having a consistent pace, it was tough. As a rule, those kinds of finishes with a new bike would be pretty decent but it’s a mark of how far we’ve come that we’re disappointed with them.”

O’Halloran’s double wins put him in the hot seat to take over the title lead and it was only Lee Jackson’s last gasp run to the line that pushed him from third to fourth and stopped him doing that, something Irwin was all too aware of.

In the last race I was doing some maths with the championship standings and I threw everything at it to try and pass Danny (Buchan), which would have meant if Jason stayed where he was we would have been equal in the championship. But Lee passed Jason, which meant we’ve just kept the title lead.”

The Honda clearly found the undulating Oulton Park circuit it’s most difficult to date with Superstock 1000 Championship leader Tom Neave also having his worse weekend of the year but Irwin remained pragmatic at the end of the weekend.

“This was probably our weakest track so far, but it’s a new bike and this year we didn’t expect to be where we are. So I think we need to remind ourselves of that and we probably would have been happy with fifths and sixths here this weekend without the success we have enjoyed.”

“That last race was the fastest of the weekend and I gave it all I could as I know what’s at stake, I also felt I owed the team a stronger performance and the changes they made to the bike made it the best it had been all weekend.”