Graeme Irwin has had an up and down start to the season.
Despite flashes of speed, injuries, crashes and bad starts had thwarted Irwin’s ambition of running at the front right up until the final moto in Lyng.
There, he got a holeshot and finally got to see the speed at the front for the first time all year. Now healing from his injuries, Irwin then raced at the first round of the Irish championship at Tinker Hill and recorded three wins but had to come through the field each time to do it.
We caught up with the Head and All Thread Suzuki rider at the end of the day to get his thoughts on his season so far.
MX Vice: Three wins today!
Graeme Irwin: It was fun today to be honest. I just kind of rode round because it is an easy place to get hurt and obviously it’s not a championship that we compete in. I had fun today and really the only one I had to really push in was that last race, I didn’t realise Stuart was that close behind me! I was kind of cruising away, and we didn’t have any pit boards or anything because we just kind of rocked up. I knew I was faster than him because I was pulling away. I don’t know what I was thinking but I glanced round before the start of the last lap and there was Stuart – so I thought I better go fast!
I was lucky enough to be able to come through from three bad starts so I enjoyed it today.
MX Vice: Was that a stock bike today?
Graeme Irwin: Yeah it was a stock bike today, even my race bike we don’t do too much to the engine. I did have one for Hawkstone but with being injured and stuff it is better to stay with standard and ride it 100% before we start working on the engine. It has a Pro Circuit pipe and Suspension but the engine is completely stock.
MX Vice: Three 20 minute races today, it is good practice for the British championship, fitness and bike time wise and all that?
Graeme Irwin: Yeah, like today although I was getting three bad starts, that is where I was lack in the British championship and where I needed to improve. Last week at Lyng when I got a bad start I was struggling to pass some of the guys. Today it was nice to get three bad starts, although I wouldn’t choose to get bad starts, it was nice to be in that position and practice passing people. I had three fun motos but tomorrow (Sunday) I will be riding again and will have three proper hard motos in the sand. I feel good fitness wise finally which is good after all the injuries.
MX Vice: Just about your shoulder, you crashed in America I believe?
Graeme Irwin: Well it’s kind of been going on from Weston, I dislocated my collarbone then in January four weeks before I went to America I broke my humerous, then I went to America and started riding and it was really good and I felt strong. But three days before the end I came up short on a double and it dislocated the bone again and put everything back to square one.
Obviously we didn’t really have time for that with Hawkstone two weeks later! I still rode there it’s not the end of the world with a dislocated collarbone but I went to see if I could ride. I went to the first British still really rusty but my speed was good and I qualified first. Then in the first race I basically looped out and injured the tendons on my heel.
My whole ankle swole up but the only thing I was lucky enough with was I could put a lot weight on my toes just not on my heel. We got through that day but it was just damage limitation after the crash.
MX Vice: Did that frustrate you a bit after being on pole?
Graeme Irwin: The first race, first Iap I made the mistake and I was gutted because I knew I had good speed. Going into the second round I didn’t get good starts in the first two races. In the first race I don’t know but I just seemed to have a target on my back – I don’t know what it was! Any time I opened the door to pass guys people were coming in on me. I did my fastest laps in the last two laps of the race and it wasn’t even fast but it just shows how slow I had been going!
In the second race I didn’t get such a bad start but Brad came in for what I thought was a suicidal move down the inside, he said he made a mistake coming into the corner, and I’m not really too worried because racing is racing to me. I then squared him up and it took us both down, I wasn’t going to get pushed around, maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do for my position in the race but he came in hard on me so I gave it back to him. Racing is racing and I have no worries with Brad, I think he is a good rider.
The last race I holeshot it and ran with Simpson and nearly passed him back, I think with the first two races I used to much energy and dropped back a bit but I was only 15 seconds off the lead at the end. My lap time in the last race was the same as the first race and by the last race the track was gnarly so it shows that the first two race, I wasn’t riding good.
MX Vice: It’s been a strange start to the season, you started the year on pole but it took you six motos to see the front of the pack!
Graeme Irwin: Yeah that’s the thing! It’s just been one of them years! Even today riding with these guy here at home on these tracks, it’s always hard, it’s always close racing. My confidence is up now and I don’t want to be cocky, I will never be cocky, but I feel now I can go fast and I showed that at the first round even though it was only qualifying. The speed is there, but this is me coming back, the first time I could do a press up was on Tuesday!
There was a lot of stuff going on in the background but I am not using it as an excuse for my poor results. At Lyng it was me, bike was fantastic, the team is behind me they didn’t even expect to be riding that much recently. I have started to ride again during the week so everything is starting to build up. Even now I feel good, the track was pretty rough today for a hard pack track and it wasn’t easy to come from the back. I enjoyed it today.
MX Vice: GP wise, are you going to be doing any of them?
Graeme Irwin: I am doing the Czech Republic my sponsor, Heads and All Threads are paying to go that one, I am really looking forward to it because they are the guys I want to be racing. I would say hopefully fingers crossed if it goes good do more but definitely doing the Czech Republic GP and the British.
Interview and photo: Jonathan McCready