The Adelaide Masters championship made its only trip north last weekend when Bishopscourt hosted the latest set of races.
Unbeaten in the previous nine races in the Masters series, Derek Sheils had a bad day at the office by his own terms when he slipped off the podium in the first race of the day.
Ryan Rainey took the lead right from the lights and although he was closed down by Nico Mawhinney in the closing few laps, it was the Crumlin man who crossed the line to take his first Masters race win, and inflict the first defeat of the year to series leader Derek Sheils. Mawhinney was only .4 back at the line, while David Haire, in third place, shrugged off tyre problems to lead him a three bike train, comprising of himself, Gerard Kinghan and Derek Sheils.
David Haire blasted off the line in the second race, which also incorporated the Norman Brown memorial Trophy. Randalstown man Gerard Kinghan dived under Nico Mawhinney at the hairpin on the opening lap, and forced the Magherafelt rider to lift up. Mawhinney run onto the grass and slid off, while Kinghan continued on after Haire. The move led Kinghan to take to social media on Saturday night to apologize to Mahwinney, an apology that was accepted.
With Haire having made the best of the break, he opened up an unassailable gap over the rest of the field. Recovering from a slow start, Derek Sheils climbed to second, but by then Haire was too far down the road to be caught. The Lisburn won man by 3 seconds, while Kinghan finished in third place, just .2 adrift of Sheils.
In the Superbike Cup division, Edward Comerford also lost his 100% record of race wins. He was beaten twice by Alvin Griffin, but regardless, has done enough to clinch the SBK Cup championship.
The Supersport 600 class has, without any doubt, given us the best racing of the year. Saturday was no exception.
In the first race, pole setter Nikki Coates slid off on the opening lap and left Conor Parkhill to lead for the entire distance. Not that that he had it easy. Even something like a missed gear change could have allowed one of half a dozen riders into the lead. The Upperlands lad held his nerve and grabbed a win by just .1 of a second over Robert English. Antrims Jamie Patterson finished in third place, well behind the leaders.
If Nikki Coates thought he had a bad first race, worse was to come. Coates was judged to have carried on at race speed after a red flag incident. He was given a 10 second race penalty, which he appealed. The stewards of the meeting meted out a total disqualification to him.
Even so, the top four riders were separated by under half a second. Conor Parkhill wrapped up a double, from memory, his first at ISS. Jamie Patterson was only .04 ahead of Robert English, a result that takes the championship to the final race of the year, at Mondellos International circuit on the 3rd and 4th October. English needs just 14 points to secure his first Masters title.
Michael Rea was the first Cup rider in both races, but had the win in the second race taken away for an infringement of the tyre rule, handing it to Dean Fishbourne. In the Superbike Cup race, Barry Sheehan grabbed his first double on his new Suzuki.
Having stepped up from the Supertwin class, Donaraile man Sheehan is fast getting to grips with his new mount. In the opening race he had little bother winning from Anthony Derrane, while John Shearer was a distant third. There was a similar pattern to the second race, Sheehan taking a win, this time less than half a second ahead of Derrane, with Shearer still slightly some 10 seconds back in third.
Michael Hopkins was the best of the 600’s in the first race. He finished comfortably ahead of a close dice involving Chris Dundee and Alan Armstrong. It was resolved in Dundees favour, by .5 of a second.
Ryan Gibson was the best of the 600’s in the second encounter. Hopkins was all over Gibson for much of the race, failing by .2 of a second to register what would have been the first double of his career. Chris Dundee was a distant third.
Dave Butler was unbeaten in the Supertwins races.
Antrim’s Ross Patterson gave the Dublin man a hard time in the first race, but just hadn’t the outright speed of Butlers bike. Ross missed out by .1 of a second. Aaron Clifford was, strangely, off the pace of the leaders, slipping to third, 11.5 seconds back.
Butler again took the race win second time out. This time it was Clifford who finished .1 of a second back, while Ross Patterson slipped back to third. Vinny Brennan had a double in the two Production class races. Drogheda man Mark McConville, a mechanic in Ronan Pentonys bike shop, finished a close run second, ahead of Jonny Hamill.
Brennan again took the race win in the second outing. He was nearly 7 seconds ahead of McConville, with Kevin Baker just .2 back in third place.
Paul McCrea, a former Clubmans champion, recently returned to racing after a few years in retirement, won the opening Pre Injection race.
McCrea was able to open a gap on the next three riders who fought tooth and nail for the lower places on the podium. Kevin Dempsey eventually finished in second place, ahead of James McKenna and Alan Graham. All three had under a second separating them.
Alan Graham had a great start in the second race and was able to open a race winning gap in the early stages of the race. McCrea pushed hard, but just couldn’t manage to get on terms with Graham.
Dempsey moved to within .3 of McCrea, but ran out of laps to make any further impact.
Alvin Griffin was in his usual great form in the SS400 class. In the first race he had a perfect start, leading by about 2 seconds at the end of the first lap. From then he opened a gap of 3.9 seconds, taking the race win over Tom Gregory. Jonathan Gormley seems to have come good of late, and recovered from not the best of starts to move to third place.
Griffin simply cleared off in the second race. From the lights he took off, opening an average of 2.6 seconds a lap of a lead.
Helped no doubt by Tom Gregorys slip off at the chicane on the first lap, Griffin finished 21 seconds ahead of Jonathan Gormley. He had a bad start and caught up on the dice for the lower podium places in the last couple of laps.
Antrim rider Lee Osprey looked at have second place sewn up till Gormley slipped ahead, getting the better of the local lad by .6 of a second.
Lee had to borrow a complete braking system from another bike as his own front calipers were found to be useless after the Mondello meeting.
He took fifth in the first race, on a bike that he couldn’t get to stop.
All in all, it was a well run day’s racing, blessed with decent weather.