There have been a number of riders that have shown significant improvement this year in both the British Motostar and British Talent Cup championships. We have previously mentioned Charlie Farrer (Banks Racing) and his being at the sharp end in most races. We have also made comment on Scott Swann’s (IFS Swann Racing) start to the Moto3 GP class of British Motostar that has seen him on the podium in three out of the four races this season.
However, we should not forget another young man also making big strides with his riding this year and that is Rhys Irwin (Ready 4 Racing). The 17-year-old from Donegal competed in both the British Motostar and the British Talent Cup last year and is doing so again in 2019. Last season he finished seventh in the British Motostar standard class with 139 points. He took his first Moto3 podium in the final round at Brands Hatch coming through from the back of the field on a rain-soaked circuit. In the British Talent Cup, he scored 26 points by the end of the season. The chart below compares the points scored in the first four races of last season and this season. It illustrates the two different Moto3 series and it is clear to see the progress Irwin has made. It has been a tremendous start to 2019.
Some examples of his best performances so far this year would be in the races at Brands Hatch in the Motostar series or any of the four in the British Talent Cup.
In the last round of the British Motostar at Brands Hatch, he qualified third. He then spent race one battling with Cameron Horsman and Charlie Farrer. At the end of 12 laps, he crossed the line less than a second from the podium in fourth place. It shows how Rhys Irwin has grown and matured over the last twelve months. He is full of confidence and it came across when I spoke to him about his seasons start. Irwin’s conversation was energetic as he recounted the races. He told me, “I was a little disappointed to come out fourth because I felt me and the team deserved a podium.”
In the second race, he lined up second with the grid based on the fastest laps from race one. Irwin and the team had made some set-up changes for the second race but they didn’t have the desired effect. He caught up with Horsman and Franco Bourne in the middle of the race with the help of a safety car. Yet, he wasn’t able to run as well as he did in the first race. But in the end, he still managed to take another hard earnt fourth-place finish.
British Talent Cup
In the British Talent Cup, his improvement has been startling. After four races in 2018, he had five points. This year he already has 41 points after four races. That’s 15 points more than he scored in the whole of last season. Irwin commented,” I didn’t score any points until the fourth race last year. So it’s definitely a massive improvement this year.”
At the first round on the Silverstone National circuit, he qualified fourth just 0.155 seconds off pole position. He then was engaged in a 28 lap struggle with Horsman, Ogden, Seabright and Farrer in race one. The racing was astonishing to watch. It was so close that despite finishing 0.182 seconds behind the race winner Irwin was fifth.
In race two he was really in the thick of it. In fact, he led at some points of the race. Towards the end of the second race, another rider pushed him wide. This probably cost his chance of a podium and with the flag out he crossed the line in fourth in another tight finish.
Rhys Irwin said, “It is a lot better. I think I had a lot of races last year, you know, where I was struggling to get in the top ten. In race one [SIlverstone 2019] perhaps I was there but perhaps not dominant but it race two I was definitely one of the front runners for a lot of the race.”
The second round was also successful for the young Irishman. He qualified fifth on the grid at Donington. Irwin admits that his race pace is better than his qualifying. As a result, he was happy to be on the front two rows. In the first race, he was in the leading group of six riders that broke away. Later on, Charlie Atkins and Jack Hart managed to close in on Irwin.
Talking about the end of that race with Atkins and Hart catching him Irwin recalled, “I think they came back into it a wee bit. I think it was about two laps from the end someone pushed me wide on the way into the last chicane. That sort of ruined my podium chances, then I was battling with Jack Hart and Charlie [Atkins]. I came out the better of those two because I think I had a bit more pace than them on the last lap.”
Rhys Irwin is much more conditioned for the rigours of a Moto3 season. He said of his preparations for 2018, “Last year I don’t think I realised how big a deal the British Motostar and the British Talent Cup was. I came in and I hadn’t ridden a Moto3 before. I come from riding motocross. My pre-season testing for 2018 was riding my 125 up and down the road outside my house. This year I am definately a lot more prepared!
I’m a bit more mature now and I understand how big an opportunity it is, so I’m putting in so much work, you know. I train twice a day and this year in the Motostar I am riding in a team where I am helped by Gino Rea. So also having him behind me is a massive help. He has so much experience which is a great help with me lacking a lot of experience compared to a lot of the other riders.”
The hard work is clearly paying off. The results are coming and it can’t be too long before we see Rhys Irwin back on the podium.