NORTHERN Ireland has a new North West king after Glenn Irwin clinched a spectacular double and repeated last year’s victory with a commanding NW200 feature race win.
But unlike the 2017 battle in which he edged his hometown rival over the line, victory was never in doubt for the Be Wiser Ducati rider this afternoon as he converted his pole position into a 10 second win to take the first Superbike double since 2006.
Irwin initially powered into the lead and was untouched after almost a full lap, but red flags put a stop to action while an incident at the Ballysally Roundabout was cleared up.
Some 30 minutes later when action got back underway, it was a repeat start for the British Superbike ace as he cleared off at the front, with Silicone Engineering Kawasaki’s Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman in tow.
But no one was able to match Irwin’s pace – the Northern Irishman stretched a 3.565s lead as he cleared off at the front, while Hickman missed the final chicane at the end of lap one and fell out of podium contention.
Harrison led the pack in the battle for rostrum glory, but ran straight on at Mather’s Cross chicane, allowing Tyco BMW’s Michael Dunlop to slot through into second.
And just two laps later, with Irwin five seconds ahead of the pack, Hickman was forced to retire in the pits with a fluid leak, which put paid to his hopes of another big bike win.
Continuing to run away at the front, Irwin charged ahead to stretch a 9.962s lead to win comfortably ahead of Dunlop, who nursed his S1000RR home with a tyre issue to take second, while Honda Racing’s Lee Johnston bagged third.
“We had a really good first race before the red flag, the other boys were sharper and I made a few mistakes probably in crucial areas,” he said.
“So then I just had to do the perfect lap – the PBM Be Wiser Ducati was working a dream. I tried to do another perfect lap or two to get a gap in case we caught some back markers, but that last one I rolled off a little bit.
“I said earlier if it came to running underneath back markers to win the race I wouldn’t do it, they’re every bit entitled to be here. I was a newcomer once, you don’t just come here overnight. ”
*Main image: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
*Side image: Pacemaker Press Intl/Rod Neil