Andrew Irwin delivered an incredible performance in the opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship race of the day at Thruxton, claiming his first win in the series to become the sixth different race winner of the season to take Honda Racing back to the top.
At the start of the race Peter Hickman launched off the front row to hit the front of the pack ahead of Andrew Irwin and Jason O’Halloran, but the Honda Racing rider hit the front of the field at the end of the opening lap.
His Smiths Racing BMW rival instantly hit back to retake the position on the next lap, but Andrew Irwin was back on the attack and he was back in the lead as the pack streamed across the line to start the third lap.
O’Halloran though was in fourth place, but he put a move on Christian Iddon and then as the freight train of riders headed into Club on lap four, the Australian had been able to claim the lead for McAMS Yamaha.
As O’Halloran led, the pack had shuffled again and Iddon was then into second place ahead of Andrew Irwin, Hickman, Tommy Bridewell, Scott Redding, Danny Buchan and Josh Brookes on lap six.
A lap later and Andrew Irwin and Hickman were inseparable, but Redding was also on the move and he was into fifth on the leading Be Wiser Ducati. Meanwhile O’Halloran was holding the off the chasing pack, but the lead group of nine riders were all in contention.
On lap ten Hickman moved back into the lead with Iddon then following him through on the brakes as the BMWs held first and second ahead of O’Halloran and Andrew Irwin. McAMS Yamaha’s O’Halloran was ready to fight back, he made a move at Club a lap later and was back into second place.
The Smiths Racing BMW rider was trying to make a break from the pack, but his rivals could match his pace, but Iddon was dropping back and the Be Wiser Ducati pairing of Redding and Brookes were into fourth and fifth respectively with six laps remaining.
On lap 14 Andrew Irwin then went for a move to take the lead, pushing Hickman pack into second and into the clutches of Redding, O’Halloran and Brookes. Championship leader Redding made his move, lunging ahead of Hickman to move second with O’Halloran still pushing for his first podium of the season.
O’Halloran was back into second a lap later before hitting the front of the field on lap 16 as the final strategies were coming into play over the final five laps of the race. The McAMS Yamaha rider was then holding off the pack that had again changed with Andrew Irwin back in second ahead of Brookes and Redding.
With two laps remaining Andrew Irwin had scythed his way back to the front of the pack with O’Halloran then back in second with Brookes and Redding fighting for third, however the 2015 champion was hungry for a top three finish and he was up to second, but on the final lap Redding was ahead of his teammate again.
On the final run into Club Redding looked to try and make a move on Andrew Irwin for the lead as equally Brookes was looking to move ahead of his teammate, however the Honda rider had the edge to cross the line ahead of the Be Wiser Ducati pairing.
Andrew Irwin said: “It is such an amazing feeling! I think I passed Jason going into the last lap or something like that and I felt like I had some tyre left. The pace was funny it went up and down a lot with whoever went to the lead. I just wanted to put a strong lap together on the last lap. It is a dream come true, it’s been a tough road to get here, the best road and I’ve learnt a lot along the way.
“Whenever I won a Supersport race, I only won one but my team-mate helped me along the way so this feels like my first proper win that I’ve ever got so I’m delighted and I can’t thank Honda enough for all their hard work and I can’t wait for another dog fight in race two.”
O’Halloran just missed out on his first podium finish of the season ahead of Hickman and Buchan, who had worked his way through the pack into sixth. Xavi Forés had another strong performance to hold on to sixth place in the standings ahead of Tommy Bridewell and Luke Mossey. Ryan Vickers was back inside the top ten in his rookie season for the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki team.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Thruxton, Race 1 result:
- Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing)
- Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.223s
- Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.635s
- Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +0.754s
- Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +1.185s
- Danny Buchan (FS3-Racing Kawasaki) +2.862s
- Xavi Forés (Honda Racing) +3.011s
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) +3.172s
- Luke Mossey (OMG Racing Suzuki) +4.495s
- Ryan Vickers (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +6.717s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings after Thruxton Race 1:
- Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) 246
- Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) 201
- Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Racing Ducati) 196
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) 144
- Danny Buchan (FS3-Racing Kawasaki) 142
- Xavi Forés (Honda Racing) 123