Glenn Irwin is aiming to make history at this year’s 90th anniversary North West 200 by becoming the first rider ever to win six races in a single meeting at the international road race.
Portadown’s Phillip McCallen famously clinched a five-timer in 1992, when he was denied a sixth win after crashing whilst leading the 250cc race.
Today’s rules limit competitors to a maximum of five races in a day, but Irwin will compete in the Supertwins and Superstock classes for the first time this year at the North West, giving the Carrick man the opportunity to challenge for two wins on the Thursday evening race programme ahead of the main race bill on Saturday, May 18.
The 28-year-old has won the last three Superbike races around the 8.9-mile Triangle course on the PBM Ducati Panigale, including a dominant double in 2018.
Irwin, though, has made the switch to the British Superbike title-winning JG Speedfit Kawasaki team this season and will ride a Quattro Plant/Wicked Wings Kawasaki ZX-10RR in the Superbike and Superstock races at the North West for Pete Extance’s team.
He will also line up in the Supertwins class for the CMS/KW Electrical team on a Kawasaki ER6.
Irwin said: “I am giving myself every chance to win six races at this year’s North West. It has never been done before and I will be trying my hardest to win every race I start in.
“The ZX10-RR is a lovely bike to ride and I think it will allow me to bring some aggression back into my riding style and really show what I can do.
“There is a vibe in the team that will bring out the best in me and after riding in a test in Spain in November I feel at home with the boys and part of everything already.”
Irwin made his debut at the North West in the Supersport class on the Gearlink Kawasaki in 2015.
However, the BSB title hopeful – who finished third in the championship last year after making the Showdown for the first time – has opted to compete in the Supertwins races instead in his quest for an unparalleled six NW200 wins in 2019.
Irwin explained: “I haven’t raced a 600 on the roads since 2016 and you have to ride very hard to win a Supersport race, really committing to the corners.
“I always try to err on the side of safety on the roads and having really enjoyed racing and winning on a Supertwin at the Sunflower meeting in October [on the Burrows Engineering Kawasaki], I want to race one at the North West.”
Irwin was a runaway winner in the feature races at the North West last May, but he anticipates a stiffer challenge this year and expects fellow BSB rider Peter Hickman to pose the biggest threat to his Superbike winning streak.
“When I raced at last year’s North West I had a lot in hand,” he said.
“Even when I made a mistake in the first race I had such a big lead that I wasn’t under any real pressure but it might be different this year. All road races are very competitive now and although I will be stronger in 2019, so will the others.
“Peter is a good friend of mine and the best road racer in the world at the moment after what he did in 2018. He still hasn’t won a Superbike race at the North West and he will be out to put that right in May,” Irwin added.
“There will be other riders who will be very competitive this year but I will concentrate on me and I will be at the North West dedicated to the cause, chasing that first six-timer.”
The effervescent Ulster rider will soon fly out to Spain to commence his training regime prior to the opening British Superbike tests in March.
“It is all about preparation,” said Irwin.
“I will be riding motocross, doing some cycling and lots of fitness training before we start testing in March.”