Current and next generation riders tackle minibike event

Barry Davidson from Glarryford, ahead of Kyle Cross, 31, and Sam Dunlop, 327, in the Invitation race. Picture: Roy Adams.
Barry Davidson from Glarryford, ahead of Kyle Cross, 31, and Sam Dunlop, 327, in the Invitation race. Picture: Roy Adams.

A sport that I very much enjoy but seldom get to see is minibike, or minimoto racing.

Many of our current and past Irish champions in ‘proper’ bike racing have cut their teeth in this branch of the sport.

I had a run to Nutts Corner last weekend for the final round of the championship and was amazed by the wealth of talent that was there. Youngsters as young as five or six were out racing and enjoying it.

It was great to see some of the riders sportingly lending their bikes to current and past road racers so they could sample the sport at grass roots.

Men like recently retired Jeff Shaw, Jamie Hamilton, current Irish 125GP champion Sam Dunlop, Michael Rea, Korie and Kia McGreevy, multiple Irish 250GP road race champion Darren Burns, Drew Jamison, Davy Hamilton and Chris Mooney all took part with Burnsy easily winning the pit bike race.

Michael Rea held off Korie McGreevy in the GP minibikes, but decided to mess about trying to wheelie on the final sprint to the line. McGreevy got the better of Rea by literally inches.

Talking to Darren Burns afterwards, he says that the club are to run a Winter series. So expect some coverage from that.

My thanks to the members of the Minimoto racing club for making me feel so welcome.

SUNFLOWER THIS WEEKEND

This weekend sees the final round of the Irish Superbike championship at the Bishopscourt circuit, near Ardglass.

This will be the 38th year that Jim Finlay has sponsored the Sunflower race, and as usual it will feature 15 seeded riders, plus the fastest 26 from practice in the Superbike and Supersport 600 classes.

In the Superbike races Dean Harrison and Ben Wilson are entered, and although Harrison is better known as a road racer he will be close to the front.

It has to be said that Wilson, who moved from the Supersport class at BSB this year, has found it hard to adapt to the Superbike and consequently has been a bit off the pace. Newly crowned BSB Superstock champion Danny Buchan is also entered as is Gary Mason.

Carl Phillips, the Lisburn rider who has been a front runner in the Supersport class at the Adelaide Masters series has a provisional entry in the SBK races and I would expect him to go well.

Add to this outgoing and youngest ever Irish Superbike champion Nico Mawhinney, Damien Byrne, Brian McCormack, Jamie Patterson and Philip McNally and we are in for a couple of good races.

Sadly Cody Nally, the 2014 Masters champion hasn’t entered. He will be missed as his all action style is a great crowd pleaser.

In my opinion, the Supersport 600 class has given us the best racing of the year.

Riders like Carl Phillips, Robert Kennedy, Jamie and Ross Patterson, Jamie Hamilton, Jason Lynn, Christian Elkin, Robert English, Kevin Keyes and Richie Ryan I would expect to be entered. Add to these Glenn Irwin, Alistair Seeley, Luke Hedger, Danny Webb and Nikki Coates and I honestly think that we will see the best action of the weekend.

The press blurb makes no mention of the Pre Injection class, but hopefully they will have a full grid. We have had some great racing, especially at Mondello, from the class this year. Mervyn Griffin, Johnny Ralph, Kevin English, Shane Graham, Austen Wilson, Robert Toner, Stevie Titterington, Jonny Aiken and Matt Donaldson are all capable to getting into the top half dozen.

The 250GP class also rune with the Pre Injection bikes. Ronan Shanahan, Thomas Lawlor and Padraig Graham if he races are all in with a chance.

Here in Ireland we are lucky in that we have, per capita, always produced some world class riders. Things are little different now as we had a number of lads over last weekend at the Red Bull Rookies. Caolan Irwin and Richard Kerr are both starters at Bishopscourt.

Both were in Spain last week for the Rookies tests and both performed well, with young Irwin, in his first year on tarmac it has to be remembered, progressing to the final day. Unfortunately he didn’t make the cut into next years Rookies grid.

These two, along with Christian Elkin, Kyle Cross, Melissa Kennedy and hopefully Padraig and Cahal Graham will be racing.

World champion Tim Reeves tops the bill in the sidecar class, with newly crowned British champion Sean Hegarty also coming to the line. These two will do battle with our own sidecar crews, whose circuit knowledge should stand them in good stead for the races.

On Friday practice is due to get under way at 9am, with a couple of parade laps in the middle.

Then the final practice will take place. Three races, the Supersport and Superbike Cup, the Pre Injection and the GP125/Moto3 and Newcomers all compete on Friday.

After a warmup on Saturday morning, its straight into racing, although I’m not too sure what time its due to start at. Admission for the weekend is £20, with Saturday only being £15.

I will, as normal, have a full report and pictures in next weeks Times.

FUNDRAISER

A man who lost his life at the Manx Grand prix and is sadly missed, Randalstown man Stephen McIlvenna’s family are organising a Night at the races in his memory. The purpose is to try to raise some money for the Injured Riders Welfare Fund.

The evening is planned to take place on the 22nd November, which would have been ‘Jack’s Birthday.

I don’t have very much information on the evening as yet, but I will tell you more when I get it myself. I know it’s to be in Truffles in New Street in Randalstown and starts at 7.30pm.