Mid-Antrim club announces new sponsor for returning ‘150’ races

Some of the hardy souls who abseiled down the Europa last Sunday to raise money for the Mid Antrim 150. Picture: Roy Adams.
Some of the hardy souls who abseiled down the Europa last Sunday to raise money for the Mid Antrim 150. Picture: Roy Adams.

Mid Antrim Motorcycle Club have announced they have a new backer for next years 150 meeting, which will return to the Province’s race calendar.

The new sponsor will be Sean Crawford, of JFM Haulage. Based at Dargan Crescent, JFM are one of the leading haulage contractors in Ireland.

Jack Agnew, Chairman of the Mid Antrim club; Benita McShane, Transport Co-Ordinator at JFM; Sean Crawford, owner of JFM Transport; Conor McManus, manager of JFM; Davy McCartney; Robin Brown, Treasurer of the Mid Antrim club.

Jack Agnew, Chairman of the Mid Antrim club; Benita McShane, Transport Co-Ordinator at JFM; Sean Crawford, owner of JFM Transport; Conor McManus, manager of JFM; Davy McCartney; Robin Brown, Treasurer of the Mid Antrim club.

It is hoped that the JFM Haulage Mid Antrim 150 meeting will be the first road race of the season after the club applied for an earlier date.

The Mid Antrim has never had a title sponsor since it moved to the 3.6 mile Clough circuit, and indeed, the last time they had was in 1982.

There have already been some improvements to the road surface and this, coupled with improved facilities in and around the new paddock area, things are already looking good for the meeting. Given decent weather, I reckon lap records are going to be shattered.

Discussions are taking place between the club and a number of other organisations and companies with a view to having all the races sponsored.

I will, of course, have further details as and when they become available. It’s great to see our local road race meeting coming back to the calendar after a couple of years in the doldrums.

To help the club raise funds for the 2016 Mid Antrim, some 24 hardy individuals undertook an abseil down the Europa last Sunday.

Despite the weather taking a turn for the worse shortly before they went over the edge, all completed the task. Some, it has to be said, more readily than others.

Event organiser Allanah Jackson has already her next challenge for the club pencilled in. Anybody fancy a zip line? Don’t laugh. It was nearly a wing walk. Well done to all who took part.

SEELEY AT BISHOPSCOURT

Meanwhile, Carrickfergus rider Alistair Seeley took time out from his British Superstock campaign to turn out at Bishopscourt last weekend, and romped away with two Superbike wins in the David Wood Memorial meeting.

In the first race, Seeley led right from the start. Crumlins Ryan Rainey had been running in second place, but was relegated to third with a couple of laps to go by Dromara man Alistair Kirk.

The second race was pretty much the same story. Seeley opened something like half a second a lap over the rest of the field, this time Rainey getting the better of Kirky for second.

The Supersport 600 class has, consistently, produced the best racing of the meeting. Saturday was no different. Antrim’s Jamie Patterson led from the start in the first race, chased by Robert English and Nikki Coates. Before long English took over, chased by Nikki Coates and Robert Kennedy. A slip by Kennedy left him dropping out of contention and English moved away from Coates, who had, in turn, opened a gap over the third finisher, Jason Lynn.

Race two was similar in that Coates led at the start, with English, Lynn and the Patterson brothers Jamie and Ross ion close company. English had his bike in knots trying to get the better of the Glengormley man, but Coates managed to hold him off by .4 of a second. Jamie Patterson finished in third place.

The Supertwin/Production twin class gave Antrim riders a clean sweep. Luke Hazlett won the two Production races, and in doing so, wrapped up the Ulster championship. He finished nearly 6 seconds clear of his main championship rival, Droghedas Mark McConville, while Chris Hillis was third. In the second race McConville gave Hazlett a harder time. Luke had to work hard, however, to recover from a bad start. He picked his rivals off one at a time, to move ahead, winning by .3 of a second. Again Chris Hillis finished in third place.

Ross Patterson took a double in the Supertwin class. In the first race he led right from the start, soon opening up a gap over eventual second finisher Christian Elkin. Despite setting the fastest lap of the race, Elki had to settle for runner up, 1.7 seconds off the win. Kia McGreevy was third. A fabulous start in the second race left Patterson the proverbial country mile ahead of the rest of the field by the end of the first couple of laps. Another Antrim rider, Jonny Hanna, took second, well ahead of third man Daryl Duffy.

In the ISB/ISS Cup races Karl O’Doherty ran out as winner in the ISB category. He was never under any real pressure in either race. Big John Shearer had a brace of second places, both times ahead of John Ryan. In the 600 category, it was Ryan Gibson who topped the results sheets. On a Pre Injection bike, Paul McCrea finished in second place in race one, well ahead of Dundalk man Noel Smith. Ryan Gibson took the victory in race two, well ahead of Dave Liddy on his Numpty Racing R6. Dave had the heart rending discovery on Monday morning that his race bike had been stolen from his shed over the weekend.

Stevie Titterington showed his true class in the Pre Injection races. He won both times, setting a new lap record in the first race. In the opening race, Stevie hit the front from the lights, moving away from eventual second finisher Mervyn Griffin. Roger Aiken chased Griffin across the line, missing out by half a second. Titterington clipped .2 of a second off Andrew Brady’s old lap record. A non starter in the opening race due to a crash in practice, Brady recovered to finish second in race two, with Mervyn Griffin taking a distant third place.

Two of the best races of the day were in the Production 125-250/300 class. Connall Courtney and Aaron Wright were wheel to wheel both times. In the first race Wright took the win, clipping .4 of a second off Courtneys lap record. Jordan Burrows was third.

In the second race, it was again elbow to elbow stuff. Taking a further .8 off the record he set in the first race, Aaron Wright ended the day a full 1.2 seconds faster than the old record. Young Courtney, from Warrenpoint, was under a second back at the like, while Scott Swann rode a steady race to take third place, much the delight of dad Michael. Following a protest, both Aaron and Connells bikes were stripped and both found to be 100% legal.

Randalstown lad Eugene McManus, on the beautiful little KTM, had a double in the GP125 Moto3 races. He beat Toomebridge lad Cahal Graham into second place, by nearly 6 seconds, while Nigel Moore finished in third position. There was the same result in the second outing as well. McManus set the fastest lap of his class, almost 2 seconds faster than Cahal Graham.

Run concurrently with the GP125’s and Moto3, the SS400’s threw us up some great racing right down the field. The first race was won by Ballymena man Kirk Dickey, who pipped Antrim’s Peter Fletcher by under a second. Jonathan Gormley was third, but far from out of touch. Fletcher took the win in race two, just .4 ahead of Dickey.