Glenn Irwin was in back in action this weekend (28th to 30th June) with Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki at round five of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Knockhill, Scotland.
Irwin equalled his best result of the season so far coming away with two more top ten finishes, including a best of ninth.
Good conditions on Friday and Saturday morning were replaced by wet weather and thunderstorms for the afternoon’s qualifying session but after a two-hour delay, it was the returning Ben Currie who proved his prowess in the wet to qualify in ninth place on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR for the first race.
Glenn struggled to put in a decent time in the conditions though and lined up in 20th and four rows further back.
Sunday again dawned wet but the rain stopped and a dry line was rapidly appearing by the time the first Superbike race got underway.
Unfortunately, Ben opted for wet tyres, which proved to be the wrong decision, and he was forced to retire on the eighth lap. However, Glenn put in a strong ride and tore through the pack to claim 10th place at the chequered flag.
It meant he started the second 30-lap race from the much more advanced position of ninth and the third row, as opposed to the seventh, although it was the opposite for Ben as he found himself at the back of the grid.
The latter fought his way up to 17th before being forced to retire just after half-race distance and although Glenn dropped back to 14th at one stage, he quickly regrouped and was up to ninth place by lap 25.
A technical issue for Bradley Ray meant the race ended early due to track contamination and so Glenn duly took his second top-ten finish of the day.
“We’ve made more progression this weekend and secured more top ten finishes,” explained Glenn.
“Race one was good considering the track conditions and where I qualified. I was happy to be ninth on the grid for race two. I felt like I could fight and go forwards but there was a limit; the guys are working really well and we just need to find a solution.
“We are already brain-storming to try and move things along. It’s our best weekend so far this year and it’s very frustrating but hopefully we can improve at Snetterton.”
Ben added: “It was a very positive weekend, especially seeing as we were 50/50 whether we were going to ride.
“To come back and finish the whole weekend and qualify ninth in iffy conditions was more than we could have expected. My foot is nowhere near 100% and we’ve got another few weeks to get fit and use this information to build on the rest of the season.
“We got some really good track time this weekend but I’m struggling a little with bike fitness and I elected to pull out of the races as I didn’t want it to become dangerous for me or anyone else.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine said he was frustrated with the team’s lack of progress: “We are still not where we want to be. We are not a mid-pack running team; we’ve proved that in the last few years.
“We’ve done everything we possibly can but we still seem to be in the wrong position. I hope we can continue to improve and start moving forwards at the remaining rounds of the season.
“With Ben, we knew it would be hard but we know it was the right decision to bring him back and get some track time so he knows where he needs to be before he is fully fit again.
“He knows he needs to get stronger and it wasn’t perfect in dry conditions but in the wet conditions, where he didn’t have to move on the bike much, he would have been ok.
“He did the sensible thing pulling in in both dry races and hopefully he’ll continue to improve for Snetterton.”
Three races were also on the schedule for the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship with Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood getting their season back on track with an excellent second-place finish and a new lap record in the opening race.
Unfortunately, Ben Holland/Lee Watson were involved in an incident on lap one and lost their wheel arch. Although they managed to replace it and get back out on the track, they’d lost a lap-and-a-half on the leaders and finished in 18th.
The inclement weather meant the second race on Saturday evening was cancelled, but in the third scheduled race of the weekend which was held on Sunday, Stevens/Charlwood again found themselves out of luck when they clipped the kerb and were t-boned by another outfit on the eighth lap. Both bikes were extensively damaged and couldn’t continue. Holland/Watson were also early retirements after suffering mechanical failure.
Ricky said: “It was another trying weekend despite a really promising start. The bike was running brilliantly and to get back on the podium on Saturday was a fantastic feeling.
“Sadly our luck ran out on Sunday and we paid dearly for a relatively minor mistake. Luckily we have a three-week break between now and Snetterton so we have time to recover and make the necessary repairs to the bike.”
Lee added: “This weekend has been really frustrating as we failed to get any points on the board owing to problems with the bike once again.
“In race two we were making excellent progress but mechanical failure put paid to any hopes we had of finishing the race. We’ll just have to regroup, take away the positives from this weekend and come out fighting again at Snetterton.”