MOTORSPORT: Irwin targets British title

Graeme Irwin with his Buildbase Honda team.
Graeme Irwin with his Buildbase Honda team.

Carrick MX star Graeme Irwin has resigned for Buildbase Honda for 2017 to again challenge for the Maxxis British Championship, the Pirelli Masters and a few GPs on the all-new CRF450RW Honda.

“I don’t believe I reached my full expectation of what I believed I could do in 2016. Okay I won the two titles but fourth in the British isn’t where I wanted to be,” revealed the double champion.

Glenn Irwin was unlucky in Macau.

Glenn Irwin was unlucky in Macau.

“That’s the second time I’ve been fourth in the series but I believe I can run with the front guys every week and I reckon with the new bike it will be a lot easier for me.”

The saying goes that a happy rider is a fast one and the Carrick rider who has ridden for KTM and Suzuki in the past seems to be content with the Buildbase Honda set up.

He added; “I’m really happy with the Buildbase Honda team and since joining them I have went up a step but there’s another step to go and I believe that will happen in 2017.”

Irwin plans to start riding at the start of January after a training in the Californian sunshine with MotoGP star Cal Crutchlow.

His first competitive outing on the new bike will be the 29th January in Sardinia, Italy, for the first of three rounds of the Italian championship before returning home for the start of the Maxxis British MX1 series at the start of March.

It was at the end of 2015 that Carrick MX star Irwin signed for three times World 500 Champion Dave Thorpe’s Buildbase Honda team to challenge for the Maxxis British MX1, Pirelli MX1 Masters and MX1 National championships.

By the end of the season, although slightly disappointed with fourth in the British Championship he was outstanding in both the National championships.

“Yeah the MX Nationals were easy enough in comparison,” he said.

“I won more races and took more overalls than anyone else but the British is a different challenge altogether with six regular Grand Prix riders competing in the series.

“In the British I was consistent at the start of the year, just a little bit off the pace of both GP regulars, Shaun Simpson and Tommy Searle.

“I was however always at a similar pace to Jake Nicholls in the early part of the season but he upped it towards the end of the year to take third and my broken thumb mid season didn’t help the cause for a top three.

“Luckily I only missed the final round of the MX Nationals and I had that championship wrapped up by then.”

After a few weeks of recuperation the 25-year-old was back in action for the final round of the British at Fox Hills.

“I qualified fastest and in race one I finished right behind winner Tommy Searle,” he said.

“My time off the bike told a story in race two as towards the end of the race where I normally have the edge I tired and could only finish fourth. “

Like Buildbase team-mate Martin Barr he came to the Desertmartin round of the Maxxis on a high and looking for wins in front of the home fans. Both left disappointed having come up short of their high expectations.

He said; “I think this year we both had really bad luck. Martin hurting his shoulder and me obviously hitting the post, rider error, in race one while leading, wasn’t very good.

“Thankfully I rescued something from the meeting taking second in race two.”

After the domestic season had ended Graeme’s next challenge was the MX des Nations where he teamed up with Martin Barr and Stuart Edmonds in team Ireland.

It didn’t go well for the popular local rider. After four laps of practice he crashed, dislocating his left shoulder.

He added; “After all I did to get fit for the final round of the British to try and take third then to go the the Des Nations and have a small crash which dislocated my shoulder, on the fourth lap of practice was unbelievable. You just couldn’t write the script.”

Graeme takes racing injuries in his stride. He is no stranger to injury and the operating table having broken is neck back in 2011 while racing in France.

“Five weeks ago they broke a piece of bone off my chest and screwed it onto my shoulder joint so it is quite a good operation and I am back to full training, so it is all good,” he said.

As we concluded our chat I did suggest that a move to the short circuit scene might be a safer option to motocross and he replied; I’d only beat the brothers Glenn and Andrew and that wouldn’t go down well.

“Remember I did finish just behind the Irish superbike champion at the Sunflower in 2015 and I had never ridden the bike or on the tarmac before that weekend.”