Brian McCormack made the most of Ryan Rainey’s misfortune at Mondello, when he won the newly reintroduced Monarch of Mondello race.
Rainey, who looked like the only rider able to run with Tramore man McCormack, slid off his R1 on the third corner of the first lap of the feature race, leaving BMac with a clear lead, which he built on till he ended the race 4.8 seconds ahead of Maghera rider Jason Lynn, on a 600 Suzuki.
Raymond Casey took third, less than half a second behind Lynn. In the first outing for the Superbikes, Brian McCormack and Ryan Rainey were having a good race, pulling away from 600 mounted Jason Lynn. At the halfway point in the race McCormack was forced into the pits, giving Rainey a fairly easy task to ride away to a 9 second win over Raymond Casey. Mark O’Byrne finished third, still in touch with the second place man.
Despite the fact that the Supersport 600 class was comparatively poorly supported, the racing was top notch. In race one, Jason Lynn held a slender lead from the start. Before long Robert English had taken over at the front, a lead he never lost again. Richie Ryan finished in second place, 3 seconds off the pace, while Lynn slipped to third, a further 1.3 seconds adrift.
I don’t know how many times the lead changed in the second race, or even how many different leaders we had. Richie Ryan was the first lap leader, from Robert English and Robert Kennedy. Kennedy took over for a couple of laps, then English. In the closing stages of the race English made a break, with Dundrods Robert Kennedy hanging with him. At the finish it was English who won, just .2 ahead of Robert Kennedy, while Richie Ryan had slipped back to the tune of about 4 seconds.
Randalstown’s Christian Elkin and Andrew Mclean provided the main entertainment in the Supertwins races. In the opening race, the top two moved ahead, Elkin holding the slenderest of leads. Mclean got the better of Elkin on the final lap, finishing just .03 of a second ahead. A good dice for third involving Ross Patterson and Mark McConville was resolved when McConville lost the front end and crashed, leaving the Antrim lad to take an untroubled podium.
Christian Elkin had his revenge in the second race, however. He took off right from the lights and although young Mclean never gave him a second to relax, the local man took the race win by 1.8 seconds. Ross Patterson and Mark McConville had their own race, with Patterson getting the better of the Drogheda rider.
Graham Whitmore had a lightening start in the opening SS400 race. He was shadowed for the entire race distance by Swords man Jonathan Gormley, who slipped ahead with a couple of laps to go. Whitmore tried, but had to give best by just .6 of a second. The top two had moved away from third finisher Eoin Collins, who made his way up the field after a slow start.
Whitmore, from Gorey, made no mistakes in the next outing. He blasted off the line, followed by Gormley. Whitmore took the win, 4.6 seconds ahead of Gormley, while in third it was again Eoin Collins finishing in a distant third position.
Run concurrently with the Lightweight 400 race, the 125’s provided some great entertainment. Toomebridge rider Cahal Graham and Kevin Keyes were wheel to wheel in the first race, with the local lad taking the race win by 2.6 seconds. Randalstown lad Eugene McManus, a faller from Roy Hanna’s little GP125 the previous day, finished in third.
This doesn’t tell the full story, though. McManus pitted at the end of the warm up lap with a clutch problem. His pit crew couldn’t fix it and he was forced to pull his new little Moto3 KTM off the table. Without even having the engine properly warmed up and after stalling at the end of the pitlane, the local lad rode a brilliant race to take third. There was the same result in the second race as well, with Cahal Graham winning by under a second from Kevin Keyes. Sadly Eugene McManus slipped off the KTM on the third lap, putting paid to his chances of a dream debut on his new work of art, sorry, bike.
Charles Stewart had no equals in the Classic Superbikes races. The Ballycastle man simply rode off into the distance in the opening race, leaving Cormac Conroy trailing in his wake. Conroy was over 11 seconds back at the end, with Alan Armstrong taking third place. It was again Charles Stewart in the second race, but this time Cormac Conroy kept him in sight. Being able to see him and being able to pass him aren’t the same, and the Co Antrim man took his second win of the day by almost 6 seconds. Chris Campbell, a first lap faller in race one, finished off the pace in third.
Luke O’Higgins was in a class of his own in the Production 125/300 races. He disappeared in the first race, leaving Connall Courtney to climb to second after a slow start. In truth, Courtney couldn’t match the pace of O’Higgins, and finished over 8 seconds back. There was a great dice for the final podium spot involving Jordan Burrows, Shane Sweeney and Scott Swann. Young Swann, son of former top rider Michael, worked his way to the front and moved away. By then though, he could make no impression on the leaders.
It was pretty much the same story in race two. Luke O’Higgins, a former MX rider who has raced a fair bit across the water, shot off the line, leaving Connall Courtney trailing in second. Scott Swann finished in third, but was closer to Courtney than he had been in race one.
The sidecars gave Crumlin man Peter O’Neill/Jack Galligan a double. They went ahead from the lights in the first race, with Dylan Lynch and Anthony McDonnell finishing in second place. The Gaffney brothers, Pat and Paul took third. With O’Neill and Galligan away, the race for the lower places in race two was a bit closer. Derek Lynch and Mick Keogh took second place after going ahead of Scobby Killough and Brian Butler towards the end.
Held in near perfect weather, and with no red flags, the days racing was done and dusted by 5.30pm.
One of the days that reminds me, if I ever needed reminding, why I love Mondello.
DOUBLE HEADER THIS WEEKEND
I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why the MCUI permits two clubs to hold race meetings on the same weekend.
It not only forces fans to decide where they attend, but starves both clubs of much needed publicity.
But that’s the way it is this week. On Saturday we have a meeting an ISB round at Kirkistown, while on Saturday and Sunday the Country Crest Killalane meeting winds up what has been a difficult road race season. Practice at Killalane will be from noon till 7pm on Saturday, while on Sunday the roads close at 8am till 6.30pm. Yes, you did read that right. 8am is road close time.