Glenn Irwin bounced back from a crash in race one at the Bennetts British Superbike meeting at Oulton Park to salvage a battling fifth place in race two.
The Be Wiser PBM Ducati rider had high expectations for the third round of the series after dipping under the lap record on the Panigale R to set the fastest time at the recent test at the Cheshire circuit.
Irwin qualified on the front row in third place for the Bank Holiday round and was lying third in the opening race when he crashed out at Island Bend, fortunately escaping injury.
The Carrickfergus man regrouped for race two and sealed fifth place behind team-mate Shane Byrne, but Irwin admitted he was hoping to be on the rostrum at least at Oulton.
“It’s been frustrating today and after being fast here in testing and in qualifying, the potential was high and I felt sure we’d be contesting the podiums,” he said.
“In race one, I was just sitting there behind the front two and could see they were using more rubber than me, but the crash came out of nowhere and I’m mystified as to what happened.
“It made me ride tense for the second race and not at all in my usual rhythm. I suffered with bad arm pump due to riding tense so fifth isn’t too bad from what was a pretty poor race.”
Irwin is fifth in the championship standings after the first three rounds and the 28-year-old now has his sights set on the Vauxhall International North West 200, where practice commences next Tuesday on the North Coast.
Last year, he made his Superbike debut at the North West and won a memorable feature race after a nip and tuck battle with fellow Carrick man Alastair Seeley.
Both riders will go head to head once again around the 8.9-mile Triangle course, where they face fierce opposition from a host of big names, including outright lap record holder Michael Dunlop, 14-time winner Michael Rutter, Smiths BMW rider Peter Hickman and Honda Racing’s Lee Johnston to name a few.
Irwin said: “The weekend promised so much but we’re still in the top six with a good buffer to the riders behind us, so I’ll look forward to the North West 200 where I’ll be looking to be back on the top step once more.”
Leon Haslam doubled up on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki as he won the first race from Jake Dixon (RAF Reserves Kawasaki) and Byrne.
In race two, Haslam sealed his brace with victory over Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran by only 0.086 seconds, with Dixon finishing in the final podium place ahead of Byrne and Irwin.
Michael Laverty had a DNF in race one and finished in 13th place in the second race, while series rookie Carl Phillips had a disappointing day on the Gearlink Kawasaki, failing to finish either race.