Glenn Irwin impresses with pace as belated Isle of Man TT debut gets underway

Glenn Irwin showed he is a quick learner as he worked his pace up to a 122.616mph lap on a SSTK-spec Honda CBR1000RR-R as the 2022 Isle of Man TT kicked off

Glenn Irwin - Honda Racing

The 2022 Isle of Man TT is formally under way with the first hot laps of the Manx island in three years taking place on Sunday evening to allow experienced hands to dust off the cobwebs and rookie, including BSB title contender Glenn Irwin, to get their first taste of the Mountain Course.

After an absence from the racing schedules since 2019 due to COVID-19, the TT roared back into action with an acclimatisation test across the Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Supertwins classes.

Topping the timesheets was North West 200 standout Davy Todd on the Padgetts by Milenco Honda CBR1000RR-R with a best lap of 127.492mph placing him ahead of defending champion Dean Harrison on the DAO Kawasaki (126.984mph) and Peter Hickman on a SSTK-specification Gas Monkey FHO BMW (126.490mph). Honda Racing’s John McGuinness punched in a he made his return to Honda machinery for the first time since 2016.

If anything, however, the spotlight was on the handful of rookies making their first turns in anger on the 37.7-mile course, specifically Irwin on the second of the factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR-Rs.

The Ulsterman - a double winner in the Superbike class at the North West 200 earlier this month - finally made his belated debut at the TT on a SSTK-specification machine.

A triple winner in BSB this season, Irwin had been lined up to make his TT debut in 2020 before it was cancelled but made the wait worth it with a hugely creditable 122.616mph lap.

Despite admitting to being caught out by the ‘strobing effect’ of the high-speed stretches and reckoning he was downshifting too much in certain places, he was encouraged by his pace in what he has branded an acclimatisation exercise.

“Day one at the TT did not fail to deliver! Honestly, it was really, really enjoyable, the ‘strobey bits’ (strobe effect) I was like ‘woah, this is nuts through here’, but in the laps that follow you do go a lot quicker. 

“The bits that are really difficult for me is in the high-speed stuff, the strobe effect is difficult and everyone tells me it is worse in the evening so I am hoping for clouds for the next couple of weeks!

“We just stayed steady away, learning a lot, there are a lot of kinks on the mountain - where you can be, where you can’t be - and when I sleep tonight, if I can sleep, they’ll ingrain into me a bit  more. 

“I always watch John McGuinness’ lap so I want to watch it back, I know I was knocking back a gear in too many in some places but it is just where I feel comfortable.

“There are places where I am slow, I know I am slow, but I am more than happy to be slow for two weeks around there.”