Fourth in points is good for most riders but not if you ask Graeme Irwin. He doesn’t understand the term fourth – he only seems to know the word first. And that’s what he is desperate to do on Sunday in front of his home crowd.
Irwin threatened to win a moto last year but didn’t quite do it. This year he believes his equipment is good enough to get the job done, it’s just up to him. And by the way, he still hasn’t given up hope of winning the title!
That’s what you get from Irwin, total motivation to win. He is happy with nothing less and that is why his local fans get into such a frenzy when he is one the track.
And speaking of winning, he won last weekend at the British masters on the RMZ450 beating MX1 championship leader Kristian Whatley. Irwin has that winning feeling back, the feeling that he lives for, and he wants to keep the ball rolling this weekend.
MX Vice spoke to Graeme to get his thoughts on his upcoming home round at Desertmartin. Excited and motivated would be an understatement…
You won the British Masters in MX1… but why were you on the 450?
I have been riding the 450 one day a week for the last few weeks and I got a brand new 450 for last weekend. I put my front forks in it and kept the back shock standard. Apart from the pipe and front forks everything was standard. I just wanted to do a race before Desertmartin in the sand and I felt comfortable. I feel I ride the 450 quite well so it was a good day.
Philip McCullough said a few years ago he thought you would maybe be even better on a 450 than a 250. Is that something you agree with and will prove in the years to come?
I think I proved that. I have had a couple of races in the British masters and my speed has been proven. I had the flu on Saturday and Sunday so I didn’t have much energy. I was fastest in practice and in the first race it was me Whatley and Bradshaw at the front and I rode away from them. I rode steady, it wasn’t easy and I don’t want to sound big headed, but I think I have good speed on a 450.
Looking back to your first adult race at Desertmartin, it was 2008 and you were battling with Stephen Sword. That must have been a pretty awesome day for you, it was the day you announced yourself to the British championship.
I remember that day really well! I was probably a bit star struck riding around and battling with Stephen Sword . I think he did have a bit of a shoulder injury but I think I beat him in both races and I couldn’t believe it. I think it showed what I could do and if you can do it on your home track you should be able to do it anywhere.
Both you and Martin always seem to be able to raise your game in the home races, some people feel the pressure but you both seem to thrive on it.
I am the type of guy – I am cool with it. This year my results haven’t done me justice. Recently it has all been coming together. It is the time of year now where I really do need to get my head down and start winning races if I am to be in with a shout of winning the championship. Fingers crossed I think with the home crowd behind us I think we can put on a show. Martin will be strong too and hopefully we can battle together and for the crowd that will be really, really good.
Last year the first race was pretty memorable when you were catching Elliot for the lead, the crowd were going mad…
That was probably one of the highlights for me of last year. The lap before I went down I had caught him but I was gutted to crash. We had a problem with the bike and we definitely didn’t have the power Elliot did. But this year we have the package and we will be fighting for top step in all three races.
Have you anything to say to the local crowd who are going on Sunday?
I just want to thank everyone who supported me last year. That makes my job and all the work that I put in worth it. It makes it so special. If the crowd can see you are trying they do get behind you and if last year is anything to go by, and we are at the front, it should be exciting!
How would you some up your season so far? From the outside it seems good but maybe not brilliant with what I know you expect from yourself?
To be honest it has been pretty shit! I think I’ve won a couple of Red Bull races maybe. I have had one podium in the British Championship and two in the Red Bull. It’s just not where I want to be, if you’re not first your last!
It is frustrating because some weekends I’m the fastest and I am for sure the closest guy to ever win the Red Bull race on the 250. I actually had it won but I fell with two corners to go on the last lap! But it shows my speed is there – I’m just waiting for it to click. I’m being patient and just waiting for it, I don’t want to get an injury and whenever I feel ready it will click.
Is that something you have to be careful of at Desertmartin not to push too hard with the adrenalin from the crowd and make a rash manoeuvre and go down?
Rash manoeuvres are ok – I don’t mind that! I will do that no problem, I will do anything to win a race. I want to be up front and I don’t care what anybody says. What happens on the track stays on the track. I will do what it takes to win.
I just really hope that everyone at home can get behind all the local riders, we really appreciate it and I just hope for a good weekend.
Julien Lieber is hurt in the GPs, is there any talk of you doing any fill in rides on the factory Suzuki?
I am gutted about that. In my deal I was meant to get that ride (to fill in if there was an injury) and I didn’t. I wasn’t happy with that to be honest. It would have been a great opportunity. I didn’t want Julien to get an injury but I knew it might be possible for me to get chance because it’s motocross and injuries happen.
Did they explain why it didn’t happen?
They have European rider Jeremy Seewer that got the spot. They said to him that if he got a podium in the Europeans then he would get the ride and he got the podium. So fair play to him, Suzuki have looked after him.
Will you be able to ride any more GPs with your team?
Yea I will definitely. I will be doing the British GP for sure!
Interview by Jonathan McCready
Picture by Nigel Mckinstry