Irwin didn’t expect fastest newcomer record on Isle of Man TT debut

British Superbike frontrunner Irwin was due to make his TT debut in 2020, but has had to wait until this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of the two previous events.

The Honda rider has stunned across practice week, setting an impressive 122mph lap on the opening night of running and ending Friday’s running with a 128.2mph lap.

Irwin carried that form into his first TT race on Saturday, taking the checkered flag after six laps in eighth and taking the fastest-ever newcomer record away from today’s race winner Peter Hickman with a 129.85mph lap.

After the race, Irwin admitted his Friday lap wasn’t wholly representative as he followed Lee Johnston for the whole tour – but says taking the newcomer record was an “incredible feeling”.

“It was really enjoyable. I didn’t expect to go that fast,” Irwin said.

“Last night when I did 128.2mph, I had Lee Johnston in front of me the whole lap and he was 0.3mph quicker that whole lap.

“So, it was a perfect gauge. So I said to someone before the race I’m not at 128.2mph yet, I was helped by Lee.

“In the race, I don’t really get to see the strong guys because they’re away [long before me].

“So, I just catch people I’m quite a bit quicker than, so to do 129.8mph on our own in the last lap, f*****g hell. Incredible feeling.

“This place is all knowledge and experience and some of the bits where I’m slow, it’s straight line stuff through the sketchy areas.

“You just have to stay on the gas, but I’m not doing that yet. I don’t want to do that yet, just build it up. [I made] no real mistakes in the race.”

Irwin, who recently had surgery on a shoulder injury, says the Superbike TT was the longest race he’s ever done.

“F***, I can’t even feel my left hand, my shoulder is numb,” he said of the physicality of the TT.

“I’ve had shoulder surgery, it gives me a bit of hassle.

“I can just about get through a BSB race, but in the last few lapses it starts to get tight.

“An hour and 40 round here, f*****g hell, it’s the longest race I’ve ever done by about an hour. So, I need to up my training a bit for next year.”

Glenn Irwin, Honda Racing UK

Photo by: Dave Kneen

Irwin used the two-year absence of the TT to intensely study for his debut and feels his deferred maiden outing was beneficial for the opening night of practice.

However, he believes he would have still been able to get to the pace he is at now had he made his debut in 2020.

“I think it probably helped the first night when I did 122mph, it probably helped get to that stage quickly,” he said when asked if the COVID delay helped him in some ways.

“But all the effort you put in, when you come to like Ginger Hall to Ramsey, no matter what people tell you, you are human and you’re brain gets scared.

“You’re on a bumpy section, with blind crests, you’re trying to work out where the kerbs jump out at you and the hedges.

“So, no amount of preparation can find you lap time in that section.

“So, sure it probably helped on night one but I think if we made our debut two years ago we’d have probably done the same thing by now.

“I just need laps and more laps to improve in this section and stop being f*****g scared, but that’s easier said than done.”

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