Mondello Masters opener kick-starts new race season

The Mondello Masters blasts into the first turn last year. Picture: Roy Adams.
The Mondello Masters blasts into the first turn last year. Picture: Roy Adams.

This weekend sees the opening race of the 2016 season, with the Mondello Masters championship kick-starting a new racing campaign.

Having lost their main sponsor after last year’s competition, Mondello has not only carried on with the Masters, but also decided to take in an extra round of the series.

In the seven year history of the Masters it has consistently given us some fantastic racing and I can’t see that this year will be any different. Add to that the incentive for Under 23 year olds that they will have their own special award, for the Young Rider of the Year.

Mainly focussed on the Superbike and Supersport classes, the Mondello based championship also caters for SS400, Supertwin, Pre Injection, Classic Superbike, Newcomers 125/300 Production and sidecars.

Looking at some of the entries for this year, I’m thinking the Superbike class is going to be harder to win than ever before. Derek Sheils, Cody Nally, on a brand new ZX10, Brian Macormack, Philip McNally, Declan Hoey and Nikki Coates are all due to compete, and I’m quite sure there are a few top liners I have missed.

One rider who caught my eye recently was current ISS champion Robert English, who will ride the IFS R1 that Ryan Rainey used to lift the ISB title in 2015. Robert looked very comfortable and was well on the pace at Bishopscourt a couple of weeks ago. He definitely will be one to watch when he finds his feet properly on the big bike.

In the Supersport 600 class, Dundrod’s Robert Kennedy, Conor Parkhill, Dean McMaster, Luke Johnston, Christian Elkin, and any one of maybe half a dozen other riders could be in with a chance of taking the series overall.

I will have a report and photos for next week’s Times.

MID ANTRIM TRIAL

The Off Road Section of the Mid Antrim club have their first event of 2016 coming up this Saturday, 19th March.

The Shane Cup event will be the opening round of the Michelin Mid Antrim series, and will cater for all grades and abilities. The more experienced riders will ride 3 laps of a 15 section course, while the club riders and less experienced people will take in 4 laps of 10 sections.

The event is due to get under way at 11am at Shilnavogy Hill, near Broughshane.

REVISED UGP SCHEDULE

Organisers of this years Ulster Grand Prix, mindful of the fact that the National races of the Dundrod 150 didn’t get to go last year, have re organised their practice and race schedule for 2016.

Of late it has been run with practice for the Dundrod races on Wednesday, Ulster Grand Prix practice on Thursday morning, with the Dundrod races from about 2pm on the Thursday. For this year, however, there will be an extra 2 hours practice on Wednesday, with all classes catered for. On Thursday, the UGP practice will shortened, with two sessions being scrapped. The extra sessions will be on Wednesday.