Teenager Caolán Irwin from Kilmacrennan made an impressive start to his British 600cc Elite Championship at Brands Hatch over the weekend.
Irwin was impressive on his Stock Yamaha R6 against the more powerful Supersport 600’s and proved his worth against 41 riders battling to qualify for 38 places in the main race.
Qualifying comfortably in 18th position, Race 1 saw Caolán get a flying start progressing quickly but a minor mechanical fault led to his retirement in that race.
The non-finish in Race 1 meant a drop to 20th position on the grid for Sunday’s races, but topping the time sheet on Sunday morning’s warm-up gave him the confidence boost he needed for Race 2. Another perfect start gave him an early top ten position ending the race in an unbelievable fifth place.
Race 3 saw yet another perfect start from twentieth on the grid, and Caolán carved his way through the field to see him take his first 600cc podium on his maiden weekend in the class.
Speaking about his debut performance in this ultra competitive 600 class Caolán said: “The 600 class really is one of the most competitive grids both in Ireland and the UK. Due to budget restrictions I am on a Standard bike so I just wasn’t expecting to be able to battle up at the front in my first race weekend with the Supersport tuned bikes.
“I knew I had a podium in me but I thought I might have to wait until mid-season, giving me a chance to learn my new bike. It was a tricky weekend with changing track conditions and low temperatures making tyre choice much more difficult. I am just very happy with how things went and the podium was just brilliant’
Irwin – known for his holeshot starts – now looks forward to Donington Park at the end on the month.
Meanwhile, Caolan’s younger brother Rhys also moved up to a full race spec 450cc Aprilia and had a solid start to his Championship.
The youngest competitor in his class and still recovering from surgery to his ankle saw him struggle to overcome difficulty with gear selection over the weekend but he still managed a solid fifth place overall finish which was a good start to his Championship.
The young racers paid tribute to the team around them. They would like to thank all their sponsors especially James Gallagher of Oasis Bar Letterkenny their title sponsor for the 2017 season, to Grace Ann and Wesley Regan of Clean Rubber Donegal/Sligo and Michelin Tyres. Finally they paid tribute to the trojan work of their father Ivan, Wesley Regan and Ray Simpson; their mechanics on their steep learning curve to get to know the new bikes.