Mixed emotions for Andrew Irwin at Brands Hatch

Andrew Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki at Brands Hatch.
Andrew Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki at Brands Hatch.

Andrew Irwin had mixed emotions on Sunday as the Gearlink Kawasaki rider battled to an excellent runner-up in the first Dickies British Supersport Sprint race before missing race two at Brands Hatch.

Reigning champion Tarran Mackenzie sealed a double on the McAMS Yamaha to make it a perfect three wins from three so far in 2017.

Mackenzie led all the way in the first race on his R6 although Carrick man Irwin was never far away in second place on the Kawasaki.

After 18 laps, Mackenzie wrapped up victory by 0.6 seconds from Irwin, with third place going to Keith Farmer on the Macadam Yamaha, who fended off a late charge from Gearlink Kawasaki’s Ben Currie to secure the final place on the rostrum.

Alastair Seeley finished fifth on the Spirit Moto2 machine, six seconds behind Mackenzie, with Eglinton’s David Allingham finalising the top six on the EHA Racing Yamaha.

There was drama in race two when pole man and early leader Irwin was caught out by a sharp rain shower on the first lap. Farmer also went down and the red flags came out, leading to a slight delay.

Irwin, though, was unable to take his place on the grid for the restart after his team ran out of time to repair his ZX-6R.

Mackenzie made a break for it and led all the way to clinch a Sunday double, with Seeley slotting into the runner-up spot ahead of Farmer, who made up late ground to pounce for third place ahead of Allingham.

The Supersport machines will be in action again on Easter Monday with the feature race still to come.

Meanwhile, James Ellison roared to a record pole time in the MCE British Superbike class on the McAMS Yamaha, lapping in 44.728s at the Indy circuit.

JG Speedfit Kawasaki riders Luke Mossey and Leon Haslam were second and third fastest respectively, with Shane Byrne fourth (PBM Ducati).

Ulster’s Glenn Irwin was 13th quickest on the second of the factory-supported PBM Ducati machines after lapping in 45.391s.

Irwin said: “The grid position doesn’t look that good but I’m feeling really good and confident for tomorrow’s race day.

“My flying lap early in Q2 got messed up when another rider made a mistake in front of me but my race pace is really good and my fastest lap of the session came on lap 14, so that shows how good our pace is on the softer tyre.

“We made some changes between Q1 and Q2 which helped considerably and, in hindsight, I probably should have used another qualifying tyre to ensure we got through to Q3, but I’m confident I can maintain my top six finishes.”

Race one is scheduled for 1.30pm today with the second race at 4.30pm.