Even though it was newly crowned British Superstock champion Danny Buchan won the feature event of the day, for the Sunflower Trophy, with four wins it was Carrickfergus rider Glenn Irwin who was declared Man of the Meeting at a bitterly cold and windswept Bishopscourt last Saturday.
In the feature race, Buchan came from behind to pass early leader Ben Wilson. The Essex rider set a fastest lap of the race, .4 of a second off Ian Lowry’s ALR for the circuit. He had opened up a 6 second lead at the line. Wilson took second place, 1.7 ahead of Andy Reid. Reid, from Jordanstown, does all his racing across the water. He brought the Milwaukee R1 Yamaha to third place, only 1.7 seconds off the rear wheel of Wilson.
In the two Superbike races it was again Danny Buchan who called the shots. Ben Wilson had a fast start in the first one, but before long Buchan forced his way ahead. Andy Reid had been in touch with the leaders but slid off, on the fourth lap, on tyres that never really got any heat into them. He was unhurt. That let Nico Mawhinney up into third, although he was well behind the top two.
The last Superbike race gave a clean sweep to Buchan. Three starts and three wins. He beat Ben Wilson by 1.8 seconds, while Reid kept his wheels under him this time to secure third place, less than half a second behind Wilson.
The first attempt at running the first Supersport 600 race was red flagged due to a pile up as the bikes came away from the line. After a long delay the race was restarted over a reduced distance. Glenn Irwin was simply outstanding. He was pressed hard by Alistair Seeley for the entire race but Irwin clipped .2 of a second off Marshal Neills lap record, to take the win by 1.9 seconds. Ben Wilson dropped off the pace to finish in third place, 8 seconds behind his team mate Irwin. Finishing in 9th place, Ballynahinch lad Korie McGreevy took .4 of a second off the Cup lap record here as well.
The second Supersport race gave the Gearlink Kawasaki team a 1-2. Glenn Irwin held off Ben Wilson for the entire race, as the Englishman climbed all over the back wheel of the Carrick man. At the line Irwin won, but only by .7 of a second. There was no concealing his pleasure at beating his team mate. Seeley, in his last meeting for the Mar Train team, finished in third place nearly 3 seconds off the pace.
The Supertwin and Production Twin race were also record breaking affairs.
Glenn Irwin simply cleared off to win the first one. Riding the Supertwin bike he used at Dundrod for the Ulster Grand Prix there was nobody who could get anywhere near him. Taking 1.4 seconds off Keith Amors lap record set in April past, Irwin won by almost 13 seconds. Korie McGreevy had been running in second place for much of the race, but he was passed on the final lap by Dundrods Robert Kennedy. Kennedy, who was riding a Supertwin for the first time, had the bike raced on the roads by Stephen McKnight. He seemed to find little bother adapting to the machine. He finished .3 ahead of McGreevy.
The Production Twins race went to Michael Rea. Son of former Manx Grand Prix winner Stanley, Michael has upped his game over the course of this season and is now considered a front runner in the class. Michael took the Production Twin race by 1.1 seconds over Aaron Armstrong, who had the distinction of breaking the lap record for the class. The top two moved away from new champion James Chawke.
In the second race Glenn Irwin again romped away to beat Robert Kennedy by 15 seconds. Nico Mawhinney was sitting in Kennedys slipstream, but didn’t have time before the line to get ahead. He was .1 behind as they took the flag. Aaron Armstrong was just .5 adrift of Michael Rea in the Production Twins race. James Chawke finished in a distant third place, well behind the top two.
Former Manx Grand Prix winner Andrew Brady took both of the Pre Injection races. In the first he beat Johnny Aiken back into second place by under a second, while Stephen McKeown took third, just over half a second behind Aiken.
It was Mervyn Griffin who provided the main opposition in the second race, but again Brady ran out as the winner. This time there was .1 of a second separating the top two, while back in third place was Stephen McKeown. Run concurrently with the Pre Injection race, the GP250’s had only three finishers both times. The winner of both was Thomas Lawlor with Ronan Shanahan second and Michael McKerr third.
The Superbike and Supersport Cup races were combined with the F1 Forgotten Era. Daryl Heverin and Paul Demaine shared the winners spoils in the Superbike class. Heverin won the first race, with Demaine second and Ashley McKernan third. Demaine had revenge in the second race, with Heverin almost 24 seconds ahead of third man Trevor Matthewson. The first Supersport Cup race went to Curtis McLernon. In his first ever season racing McLernon was almost 6 seconds ahead of Gary Millar, who would be better known as a road racer. Chris Dilley was third.
Millar won the second outing, while Dilley moved up to second and Curtis McLernon slipped back to third place. As far as the F1 FE races went, Alvin Griffin and Chris Campbell had a first and second place each. Griffin won the first race, finishing almost 19 seconds ahead of Campbell. Local man Adam O’Boyle, on the RT&E Kawasaki, finished in third place.
Campbell grabbed a win in the second race, and with it the F1 title. He finished over 9 seconds in front of Alvin Griffin while Andy McAllister, on Jimmy Irwins Aprilia, finished in third position, some 3 seconds back.
Alvin Griffin had a double in the SS400 races. He had a fairly handy win in the first one, moving well away from Warrenpoints Tom Courtney. Stephen Shortt finished third, on a bike borrowed from his brother. Shortts bike was smoking badly during practice and he was black flagged and told that he was not to race it. After a quick phone call, another bike was brought from home for him. Alvin Griffin again made a break in the second race. Once again Tom Courtney chased hard but when he could make no real inroads into the lead, wisely decided to settle for the runner up slot. Parkgate man Peter Fletcher finished third, and seemed to be closing in on Courtney in the closing stages of the race.
The Moto3/125GP race was run with the SS400’s. Randalstown man Christian Elkin took a double here. In the first race it was pretty much game over by the time the first lap was finished. That left Kyle Cross and Richard Kerr to fight out the podium places between themselves. Cross got his nose in front in the closing few laps and held on to register a good second place, .2 ahead of Kerr.
A retirement in the first race, Toomebridge’s Padraig Graham gave Elkin a hard time in the second race. For a couple of laps he led and even going out onto the final circuit it was really the rider who got the best of the tailenders who was going to win. At the flag Elki got the verdict, pipping Padraig by .7 of a second. Richard Kerr, who was at the Red Bull Rookies try outs the previous week, finished in third place.
In the Newcomers GP125/125 Production events, Richard Kerr, the only starter, obviously took two wins. Another lad who progressed to the final day of the Rookies this year was Caolan Irwin. His machine cracked a cylinder head during Fridays practices and he didn’t have time to sort out a replacement to get it set up.
The two Production races went to Aaron Wright. Little short of a revelation all year, the lad from Newtownabbey simply hit the front and rode away from the rest of the field. Jordan Burrows was a distant second while Sam Lyons took third. It was again Aaron Wright who took the race win the second time. This time his main opposition came from young Jack Waring, who was riding in his first ever race meeting. What a meeting to start at! Young Waring, from Dollingstown was only .8 adrift of Wright, while Connall Courtney, whose dad Tom who competes in the SS400 races, finished in third place.
The two sidecar races went to World champion Tim Reeves with Lee Watson in the chair. They beat new British champion Sean Hegarty and James Neave by .3 in the first race, while our best team was Dylan Lynch with his little sister Nicole in third place. There was half a second between Reeves/Watson and Hegarty/Neave in the final sidecar race. For a while it looked like Hegarty was going to get the better of Reeves, but the multi World title holder was just too strong for him. Mick Donovan and Dave Butler were third.
It was a very enjoyable day’s racing at one of my favourite circuits. It’s good to see a club taking time to prepare and at least make an effort to deal with the media.
Most clubs are clueless and make little or no effort to help people like me to promote their race meetings.
There was a lot of time lost between races and there was no commentary at the bottom end of the track, so it was fairly near impossible to keep track of what was going on.
Regardless of that, I enjoyed the meeting.
Can’t think what I’m going to do with myself for the next few months.
MINIBIKE RACING - WINTER SERIES
A couple of weeks ago I was at Nutts Corner watching the minibikes at the final meeting of their season.
Talking to a few of the organisers, they have decided to run a winter series.
All rounds, to the best of my knowledge will be at Aghadowey. As far as I’m aware, the first will be in November and possibly January before the final couple of meetings.
That’s all I know for sure at the minute, but the club have promised to keep me up to date ref dates etc when they are decided for sure.
I enjoyed the day greatly at Nutts Corner a couple of weeks ago. There was some really good close racing with everybody working for the good of their sport.
Looking forward to getting back to Aghadowey as well.