Paddock Chatter managed to grab a few minutes of time with one of the sensations of 2012, the British Supersport Cup Champion Glenn Irwin. We caught up with the young Northern Irishman between intense training sessions ahead of an all-out assault on the British Supersport title.
Let’s start at the beginning, what’s your racing background, how did it all start?
I started riding motocross bikes at the age of 3. We had some pretty big fields out the back, a nice double over the stream etc. I raced motocross competitively up until the age of 17 competing in Irish/Ulster and also British championships before turning to track racing.
Who was your inspiration to race as a youngster and who was your hero?
I guess we initially were pointed down the racing route by our dad, although never forced. Dads been a great mentor even though he thinks I don’t listen at times! The switch to tarmac in 2008 was definitely down to firstly me and my brothers always being asked the question ‘when will you follow in your dads footsteps?’ and secondly my younger brother Graeme was kicking my ass at motocross…it was clear that wasn’t going to make a career so I effectively jumped ship!
Sum up your fantastic 2012 season for us, did you exceed the goals you’d set yourself prior to the start of the season?
Going into the 2012 season I literally got things finalised just 10 days before the opening round of the British Supersport series at Brands Hatch with CDH at the time I got about 12 laps at Cadwell Park . I hadn’t ridden a bike since a Kawasaki ZX-10R back in the October, even with the few laps I’d managed at Cadwell I was matching my then team-mate Dean Hipwells pace, and that was with him fresh back from testing in Spain!.
I guess then after that day my goals went from ‘making the grid’ to ‘actually,lets push for the top ten and Cup wins!’. I cant thank everyone involved enough for turning what looked to be a career on the scrapheap, to landing an official Yamaha ride with Mar-Train Racing. Thank you to CDH, CN racing and my main backers Met Healthcare, megastore 247 and mta components who all made last year possible and help make it such a great success for the whole team.
How do you keep busy during the winter?
I only took one week off training, initially I burnt the candle at both ends, I trained hard and I partied hard. Now with the season only round the corner, I don’t even have time to ask myself that question. I train twice a day Monday to Friday and I play football in the Northern Irish Amatuer League on a Saturday and also run up a mountain every Sunday! That’s what you call busy!
As the training is a huge part of the off-season, what does a typical week look like for you?
Without giving too much away I divide my time between strength and conditioning in SINI, the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and then cardio, core strength, balance and concentration in my local gym, not to mention indoor football, football matches, mountain running, circuit training and eating like a monk. I’m already 4.5 kilo lighter than last season as I’m working so hard to be ready for this year.
As you said earlier, for 2013 you’ve secured a ride with the Championship runners up from 2012, Mar-Train Racing on their proven Yamaha R6. Being a Northern Irish team was it natural progression to join them or was it a tough decision to move on?
A natural progression, for sure, in terms of a competitive Supersport ride, as that was my aim after what we achieved last season. Tim of Mar-Train has made no secret of admiring my racing over the past few seasons, which flattered me immensely, and knowing of Tim’s interest I’ve watched them grow as a team too.
I was very nearly a Mar-Train rider in 2012, although that would have been a year too early for me as a rider but it’s now perfect timing as I hope I’ve proved myself capable of running up where the team expect to be. We’ve good data from Jack Kennedy plus the whole team has an extra year of experience of running at the front of the pack under their belts. I genuinely see it as “the year”.
You’ve a strong and experienced team-mate next year in Stuart Easton, as well as learning from him it must give you extra motivation?
Firstly Stuart, as a former Supersport champion, is a fantastic team mate to have and I can’t wait to share data and, most importantly, learn from him. Secondly, I thrive on the ‘underdog’ tag, it’s evident who the pressure’s on to get results.
Whats the biggest single thing you’ve learned by winning a championship that’ll help you 2013?
You’d need to be Marc Marquez to say you have to win every race to be champion and, lets face it, we may all be good…but we aren’t THAT good!
I can’t single out anyone who’s going to run away with lots of race wins, this year will be about those who’ve done their hard work over the winter and who’s team are putting in 110% and by combining the two to become a real Championship threat.
You need to have good mental strength, sharpness and concentration which all in turn lead to consistency, that’s what I’m bringing from last year and will be vital to the championship, as I predict 24 very close races.
What are your overall goals for 2013 and beyond?
Like everyone, I want to win. If you said to me ‘Glenn, you’re going to finish 2nd overall this year, guaranteed’ would I take it? The answer’s an emphatic no! I don’t sacrifice so many things in my life, and neither do my team, to go and just compete for second best. We are there to win and if I can put the Mar-Train Yamaha R6 on top come the end of 2013, then I’ll be very, very, happy.
What happens after this year is anybody’s guess, I’m more than happy to focus solely on the job in hand and that’s to bring the title to Tim and the team.
One thing we realised about Glenn, as well as being quick on a motorcycle, is he’s a very focused and professional individual who has a massive opportunity this season to make his goal of winning the British Supersport title a very possible reality.
We’d like to thank Glenn for taking time out of his busy build up to talk with us and wish him, and his team, all the very best for the coming season, we’ll be watching his progress closely throughout the campaign.