Glenn Irwin has won the first ever Thursday night superbike race, taking his SBK tally to nine in a row. But the PBM Hager Ducati man didn’t get it as easy as some expected. Irwin had been three-seconds up on Davey Todd after final qualifying, which lent the impression that he was well ahead of the pack. But the 3s difference between the two men hadn’t told the full story; Irwin had worn a qualifying tyre and Todd had not. Also, Todd had been suffering from a slipping clutch during the session.

So, with all things equal, when the flag dropped to get the four-lap opening race underway it was the no.74 Milwaukee BMW of Davey Todd who took control. Todd led from the outset but Irwin was immediately on his tail, just inches from his back wheel and that’s where he stayed.

Behind them raged a ferocious battle between TT stars, Michael Dunlop, Dean Harrison and Peter Hickman. The trio scrapped and skirmished all race long in what amounted to a thrilling bout between road racing heavyweights.

But everyone’s focus was on the front two as they pulled away from the field, tussling for the lead, right on the edge. Irwin harried and hassled Todd from behind every step of the way. The local hero had been expected to pull away and exert his dominance after his display in qualifying, but the longer the race went on, it became apparent that this was a proper dogfight between two riders right at the top of their game. It was British Superbike leader vs British Superstock leader, and the crowd were spellbound. Glenn led over the line at the end of lap two but the BMW was soon back ahead.

After almost 45 km of racing, Irwin finally got to the front and made it stick when it mattered most; at Juniper just before they crossed the line to start the final lap. However, any notion that Irwin had simply been toying with Todd was soon dispelled as Davey comfortably slipped into his new role as ‘the chaser.’

The last lap was frantic, and as they approached Juniper for the final time (the chicane is notorious for final lap passes), everyone held their breath. But the Ducati man judged it just right and got through unscathed. From there, it was a drag up the hill and onto the line as Irwin took his 9th Superbike win in a row, 2.5s ahead of a disappointed Todd.

Michael Dunlop nabbed the final place on the podium, with Hickman getting the better of Harrison. Conor Cummins had a great ride on the Milenco by Padgett’s Fireblade to complete the top six.

Irwin’s victory means that he has now equalled Joey Dunlop and Michael Rutter’s record of nine NW200 SBK victories. He has previously spoken of how much he wants the all-time record for himself.

“Great race… Davey’s one of my best friends in this paddock. To be truthfully honest, to ride so hard with him is fun and not fun because you don’t want anything to happen either of us. But obviously you want to win. Davey had a plan and we had to really work hard to be there and cross the line first when it mattered. Hats off to him, he will win Superbike races here. I would like to keep winning in 2024 but I’ll maybe watch it next year.”

With two more superbike races on Saturday, that last sentence makes you wonder if he surpasses Joey Dunlop and Rutter this weekend, could that be the end of his participation at the roads event?

It would be a terrible blow to the North West if it was.

David Johnson bagged a 14th place finish on his first outing onboard the Platinum Club Racing Kawasaki.

Briggs Equipment Superbike Race 2024 Top 10 Results

Glenn IRWIN Ducati – Hager PBM Ducati 17:06.551 125.336mph
Davey TODD BMW – Milwaukee BMW 17:09.096 125.026mph
Michael DUNLOP Honda – MasterMac Honda Hawk Racing 17:23.337 123.320mph
Peter HICKMAN BMW – PHR Performance 17:23.781 123.267mph
Dean HARRISON Honda – Honda Racing UK 17:24.837 123.143mph
Conor CUMMINS Honda – Milenco by Padgett’s 17:41.060 121.260mph
John McGUINNESS Honda – Honda Racing UK 17:41.724 121.184mph
James HILLIER Honda – WTF Racing 17:42.112 121.140mph
Paul JORDAN Honda – Jackson Racing by Prosper2 17:51.726 120.053mph
Erno KOSTAMO BMW – 38 Motorsport ny Penz13 17:52.946 119.917mph