Glenn Irwin pledges Sunflower prize money to family of William Dunlop

Glenn Irwin has pledged to donate any prize money he wins at this weekend’s Sunflower Trophy meeting to the family of William Dunlop.

In an exclusive interview with the News Letter, the North West 200 and British Superbike star confirmed he will compete at Irish motorcycling’s short circuit showpiece at Bishopscourt in Co. Down, although the Carrickfergus man won’t defend his Sunflower Trophy crown.

Glenn Irwin has pledged to give any prize money he wins at the Sunflower Trophy meeting to the family of William Dunlop.

Glenn Irwin has pledged to give any prize money he wins at the Sunflower Trophy meeting to the family of William Dunlop.

The 28-year-old had his final ride for Paul Bird’s PBM Be Wiser Ducati team at Brands Hatch last weekend, where he won the opening race to secure his maiden BSB victory of the season as the Showdown reached a conclusion.

Irwin, who finished third overall in the standings, will compete in the Supertwins class for John Burrows’ B.E. Racing team at the Sunflower meeting.

On Monday, he vowed that any prize money he wins would go to Ballymoney man Dunlop’s partner, Janine, daughter Ella and newborn baby Willa Wren.

The popular road racer was tragically killed in a crash at the Skerries 100 in July.

Carrick man Glenn Irwin pictured on the Burrows Kawasaki Supertwin at Bishopscourt in 2015.

Carrick man Glenn Irwin pictured on the Burrows Kawasaki Supertwin at Bishopscourt in 2015.

Irwin said: “I’m not racing in the Sunflower Trophy race at Bishopscourt but I will be riding for John Burrows in the Supertwins class.

“Any prize money that I do win, I will donate to William Dunlop’s family – his partner Janine and daughters Ella and Willa.

“It’s one of the main reasons why I’ve decided to race at Bishopscourt this weekend, and also because I promised John (Burrows) that I would race one of his bikes again.”

Irwin previously rode for Dungannon team boss Burrows in the Supertwins class at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015.

Ballymoney man William Dunlop was tragically killed at the Skerries 100 in July.

Ballymoney man William Dunlop was tragically killed at the Skerries 100 in July.

Later that year, he was a dominant winner of both Supertwins race at the Sunflower Trophy meeting on Burrows’ Kawasaki.

He holds the Supertwins lap record at Bishopscourt, which he set in 2014 on Robbie Silvester’s VRS Kawasaki.

Irwin, who will replace newly crowned British Superbike champion Leon Haslam at JG Speedfit Kawasaki next year, said: “With permission from PBM, I’m really looking to racing at Bishopscourt this weekend.

“I’d love to have been able to try and win the Sunflower Trophy for a third year, but it’s just not possible this year. Martin Jessopp and John McGuinness will be testing the bikes before they go to the Macau Grand Prix and it’s now their time to ride the bike and prepare for Macau.

“I completely understand that and I’d want to be getting a ride on the bike for the first time as well before going to a road race – it’s more important that they have the chance to do that.”

Irwin will be a red-hot favourite on the Burrows Supertwin, but the Ulster rider says he doesn’t expect to have things all his own way.

“I’m feeling in the form of my life after winning in the dry at Brands Hatch but I certainly won’t be taking anything for granted on the Supertwin,” he said.

“It won’t be easy because young Eunan McGlinchey will be riding for McAdoo Kawasaki and he’s a super-hot kid, plus KMR are running some riders and Ryan Farquhar’s bikes are always very strong.

“In no way do I expect to walk it at the weekend, but I’m really looking forward to the race and it will also be nice to be there in the paddock.

“I rode for John Burrows at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2015 in the Supertwins races and then we went to the Sunflower as well, so it will be nice to meet up with the team again,” he added.

“Big thanks to John and also thanks to Jason Griffiths at Metzeler, because they are backing me at the event.”

The entry also includes Robert Kennedy on the Cloverdale/ILR Paton and British Junior Supersport champion Eunan McGlinchey (McAdoo Kawasaki), plus Ulster champion Gary McCoy and Denver Robb.

Other leading contenders entered are Dan Cooper, Dominic Herbertson, Christian Elkin, Darryl Tweed and Sam Laffins.

Further news regarding Ryan Farquhar’s KMR line-up for the event is due this week.