Richie Ryan Tramore sealed his first ever Superbikes podium finish. Also in picture is fellow Tramore rider, John Kavanagh.
DUNLOP IRISH MASTERS SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The penultimate round of the Dunlop Irish Masters Superbike Championships saw many of our local riders still in with a shout of championship glory.
The competitors have been very lucky this year weather wise with only one race weekend crossing paths during rainy season. This weekend looked like it was going to be kind to the riders with bright sunny forecast ahead.
PLENTY OF POINTS ON OFFER
In the Superbike Pro category Richie Ryan of Carrigeen was looking to go one step closer to achieving what no other rider has ever done in the history of the championships and that was to bring home the coveted title on his Yamaha R1 not only for the third time but for the third time in a row.
In his way however stands Ballymena man Luke Johnston who lay literally one point behind but was hungry for his maiden Superbike championship after excelling in Supersport over the previous years.
Jamie O’Keeffe of Kill who had been quietly amassing the points over the last few outings with some solid consistent finishes was hoping to jump up the championship.
Michael Prendergast who has taken a hiatus from the Superbike Pro’s with his Ducati has been very busy over the last few meetings taking the Classic Superbikes by storm on his custom built 1992 Honda Fireblade.
Looking over the championship standings especially the most recent results, Belfast’s Chris Campbell will be counting his lucky stars that Michael didn’t join the Classics earlier in the season as the races to points ratio shows Michael would be the outright leader if he went at it right from the beginning.
For now though Michael would have to settle for fighting it out for third place overall and if he can keep up his fantastic record of a podium finish every race then that could actually look like a strong possibility.
The Superbike Cup would see Dungarvans Joe Grant return to rekindle his season long battle with Kerrys Frank Doherty for the championship glory. Joe has been putting in a super effort all season and has surpassed his idol and fellow town man Peter Moloney by bringing home something Peter could never achieve – a number of 1st place finishes…. Over the season it looks like the apprentice really has become the master!
Over in the Supertwins category we would see Richie Ryan of Tramore return from injury after breaking his wrist at June’s meeting with his spectacular Superman impression over the handlebars on the last bend. With the cast only coming off a week before racing it meant Richie would have had limited mobility in the hands with not much time to recover between races. A long weekend ahead for Richie but could he do the impossible?
At the Pre-Injection there was three local riders making waves with Jonathan Mooney really gathering some pace shooting up the rankings on his debut season.
Supersport Cup would see local rider Ian Prendergast come into the weekend with the lead in the cup championship. It wasn’t going to be easy though as Darryl Sharkeys recent run of great form along with Trevor Landers consistency and the surprise return of Michael Owens fresh from his ban for breaking race and equipment rules would make the championship run in a very interesting one.
The race weekend would also see John Kavanagh return to the fold for the Superbike B races with a point to prove after missing out on the last number of meetings.
Super kid Reece Coyne was hoping to wrap up the Junior Cup on his Yamaha R3 after a super season which showed exactly why James Halligan of sponsor MegaBikes put his faith in him. Reece has improved massively as the race weekends passed which included a lot of help from mentor Brian McCormack.
Finally the man behind the lens was changed up as Mark Swinbourne took the reins for the weekend managing to get some super shots from a different perspective.
Unfortunately due to an incident packed Saturday some of the remaining races had to be cut from the timetable to fall in line with the noise restrictions in place.
We wish the very best of luck and a speedy recovery to all riders involved in the incidents.
The Supertwins category would see the return of Tramore’s Richie Ryan to the grid after missing out on some track time due to a crash in the previous rounds which would see him lucky just to have the broken wrist.
With the cast only off less than a week Richie faced an uphill battle with limited mobility which in the racing world is not an ideal situation.
A busy weekend for the Supertwins with some numerous crashes and one in particular pretty bad (Speedy recovery to the rider) , Richie who was riding well all weekend left it until the last race of the Sunday to not only post his fastest laptime in Mondello of 1:00.464 but he also took his first podium of the season when he took the third step ahead of Thomas Whitmore. Well done Richie, many more to come.
One point is all that separated championship leaders Richie and Luke coming into the weekend and with the points available becoming more scarce as the rounds ticked down there was definitely no room for error.
Richie Ryan from Carrigeen not to be confused with his name sake came into the weekend brimming with confidence after recapturing his form at the right time which had unfortunately let him down earlier in the season. Right over his shoulder was Luke, breathing down his neck at every given opportunity.
Early Saturday morning would see Richie take first blood in qualifying with a blistering lap of 54.172 to take pole by over two hundredths of a second ahead of Luke. Jamie O’Keeffe would occupy the third row of the grid with a super time of 55.900.
Unfortunately Race one fell foul of the cuts due to time constraints from the incidents in other races meaning Richie faced a nervous wait until Sunday noon to try open up the gap.
As the race eventually rolled around Richie picked up where he left off leading from start to finish to claim 25 points gaining an extra five over Luke who finished in second. Jamie had a super race which would see him gain two places and jumping to a super fifth place.
The final race of the weekend would see a front two row reverse grid meaning Richie had a bit of hard work ahead but managed to pull it off with a super race including his fastest lap time of the weekend with a 53.934 to again gain an extra five points over Luke again in second. Jamie equalled his best result in the pros when he claimed his second fifth place finish.
At the end of this round of races it is Richie who claims top spot by 11 points going into the final round over Luke. The battle of fourth will see bragging rights at stake as Jamie who leapfrogged into fifth place overall where he takes over from Peter Moloney who is in sixth.
Joe Grant preparing himself for a big weekend of Superbikes action. Photo: Mark Swinbourne.
The Joe Grant show rolled back into town to try pick up some valuable points towards his quest for a maiden championship win in the Superbike Cup. Standing in his way was Frank Doherty of Kerry with whom Joe has had some immense battles with all season.
Our local entries in this class has whittled down to one as Stephen Treacy has taken some time out to prepare for a proper assault on the championship next year.
Qualifying on Saturday would see Joe claim first blood as he took the course in a super time of 56.559 to claim top spot ahead of Frank.
As with the Superbike Pros the Cup race one unfortunately was cancelled due to accidents meaning it was a two race calendar weekend.
Sunday morning rolled around and Joe picked up where he left off when he got his first win of the weekend six seconds ahead of Frank and also managed to marginally up his lap time by 8 hundreths of a second.
Sunday afternoon would see the weekend finish on a high for Joe as he completed the double over Frank this time by a smaller margin of 3.5 seconds to bring home a valuable 25 points.
Coming into the last weekend its all to play for with Joe as he takes a commanding 26 point lead but with 75 points at stake this is really coming down to the wire. Fingers crossed Joe!!
Michael Prendergast rolled back into Mondello with his custom built Honda Fireblade to prove the last time out wasn’t luck when he claimed podium finishes.
Qualifying kicked off on Saturday morning and Michael got off to a great start cementing third place on the grid with a super time of 1:00.295, just marginally behind the leaders.
The Classic Superbikes was one of the few classes to survive the cut on Saturday with the full two race calendar taking place.
Race one would see Michael make the move upto the second step taking another podium finish right behind Chris Campbell marginally improving his fastest lap time to 1:00.079.
In the second of the day’s races Michael managed to improve his laptime to less than a minute when he stormed around in 59.232 but it wasn’t enough to take second again as he dropped just the one place down to third claiming yet another podium.
A fun fact here that since Michael joined the Classic Superbikes late in the season he has never missed a podium finish and that wasn’t going to change this weekend.
The prodigal son John Kavanagh returned to the grid for the Superbike B with a point to prove after not been seen since May’s meeting. Arriving a day early to get in some extra track time proved beneficial to John who was trying to get over his difficulty building up to speed and building confidence since his crash last time racing.
Luck wasn’t on his side in Qualifying as it was red flagged 2 laps in with all riders held in the holding area for long periods meaning John and other riders when they eventually hit the track it was with tyres outside the ideal temperature range. He did manage a number of laps posting a time of 1:00.50 which was excellent considering recent track time. Due to the crashes that was all the track time John would see that day.
Sunday morning would see John start fourth on the grid and he used it to his advantage shooting upto second place until he was nipped on the last lap on his 600cc by a 1000cc bike giving him third over all for a nice podium finish.
The second race of the day wasn’t going to go so well for John as he pulled out due to a niggling wrist injury.
With three riders generally on the grid it was left to Jonathan Mooney to show what he could do as PJ Tobin missed the race weekend while Mark Culleton discovered on Sunday morning that Pre Injection bikes don’t run on whiskey.
Qualification would see Jonathan finish 15th over all with some extra riders on the grid with a time of 1:03.822.
With Race 1 being cancelled Saturday it was Race two on the Sunday before Jonathan hit the track again where he made the most of hit as he climbed to 9th after 4 laps in with his quickest lap coming on the third with a time of 1:03.026. Jonathan had some great battles with Dennis Kennedy eventually losing out in the 9th/10th battle by a quarter of a second.
Race three would be a major improvement for Jonathan as he climbed to 8th place giving him his best finish of the season and also his fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:02.934.
Our Championship leader Ian Prendergast unfortunately missed out on the weekends racing due to mechanical issues resulting in him dropping to third in the standings after a super weekend from Darryl Sharkey. Ian will return in September still in with a shout of championship glory.
The teenage superstar that is Reece Coyne returned to the track in search of his maiden season championship in the Junior Cup.
Qualifying would go to plan for Reece as he planted himself on the front row of the grid with a second placed finish with a time of 1:05.513.
Into Race one and Reece pulled out in front to lead the race with Darragh Smith but some relentless pressure would see Darragh take the win.
Race two would be a different story as Reece managed to contain the challenge again from Darragh to take the win with a number of 1:04’s around the track.
Into the afternoon on Sunday and an unfortunate error where Reece managed to get a false neutral which sent him running off the track and into the tyre wall. Reece escaped unscathed thankfully and will return in September to wrap up the Junior Cup championship.
A super season by Reece considering this was his first year ever racing on tarmac.