The next round of the BSB British Superbike championship will be held this weekend at the beautiful Oulton Park track. Located in the north-west of England, near Little Budworth, it will be the start of the second half of this crazy 2020 season. After the Silverstone 'National' round, the undisputed championship leader is still Glenn Irwin.
Coming off the back of three consecutive fourth places, always close to Buildbase Suzuki and McAMS Yamaha, the Honda Racing UK rider missed out on the appointment with the podium but was able to increase his lead over his closest rivals (+35 on Brookes and Bridewell) .
“We already touched before the Silverstone weekend on the fact that we know Ducati are good everywhere, but we also expected Yamaha and Suzuki to be awesome going off last year. So it certainly wasn’t a shock to see Taz, Jason and Kyle up there winning and on the podium. Last year they dominated the races, but we got the best possible results” said the Honda man.
At the same time, due to the characteristics of the track, Silverstone proved to be a challenge for all the teams on the grid and the 30-year-old from Carrickfergus admitted that it was also a challenge for Havier Beltran's team. Despite this aspect, consistency in the three races played a fundamental role in the continuation of the battle for the driver's title.
“After Saturday’s race we needed to work on a plan because Sunday’s race was five laps different,” continued Irwin. “In Round 7, we thought we would have a go at one stage, I thought there was a chance I could win it until one bike went past me and I expected him to drop back later, which is what happened, so fourth was our lot for the first race. I knew we would have to work harder because I knew that riding like that on Sunday, in the longer races, there was also a chance we could have dropped back further than fourth.
An unprecedented approach for Glenn Irwin, much more administrator than in the past, along the same lines as his friend and colleague Jonathan Rea. Despite not making it to the podium for the first time this season, the eldest of the Irwin brothers has kept the championship lead intact.
“It was a case of what I have seen Jonathan Rea talk about before; about fighting the mini battle - that was Silverstone,” added Irwin. “I feel like we didn’t win the big battle at Silverstone, but we won the mini battle. We needed our rivals to self-destruct, but they outperformed us on the day, so hats off to them.”
Now the battle for the 2020 title moves to Oulton Park, where Honda Racing UK struggled a lot last season. The current BSB British Superbike leader expects three more tightly-fought races, with Ducati as the number one favourite.
“At Oulton Park, I expect Yamaha to be competitive and I have seen enough of Kyle Ryde over the first three events to know that he will be competitive, but I think that Oulton Park is probably Ducati’s strongest circuit, or one of them,” concluded Irwin. “It is one that Josh has gone well historically at, it’s Christian’s local circuit and he goes well at it, Tommy has a good track record there, so for sure the pressure will be on them to maximise what I think is a round where Ducati will score really highly across the board. We have some new parts as well to test, which is always exciting, so we have a bit of development to do throughout free practice.”