Randalstown man Gerard Kinghan drew first blood in the Irish Superbike championship when he won Sunday’s opening race at Mondello.
The race was stopped after a particularly nasty looking incident when Aaron Ebbitt dropped his bike as he braked for the first hairpin.
His bike took to the air and collected pole setter Alan Kenny. Thankfully no one was seriously injured and the race was restarted. Antrims Jamie Patterson was first to show, with Kinghan and Thomas O’Grady in close company.
That was the way it remained till the final lap, when the Randalstown man went ahead.
He took the win by .3 of a second over Patterson, while O’Grady was a further .04 adrift.
The second leg went to Patterson. He made his usual lightning start, and was never passed, holding on to win by .4 of a second from Mark O’Byrne. Gerard Kinghan finished in third place.
Dundrod’s Robert Kennedy was the first lap leader in the opening Supersport 600 race, but he soon dropped back due to a bad tyre choice. Robert English moved through and grabbed a final lap win.
He had to work hard to get by Jason Lynn, and had just managed it when the red flags were hung out due to an incident. Lynn, whose team had to hastily rebuild his bike after a heavy fall in practice, took a second position, just .4 back.
Randalstown’s Christian Elkin was third, but still well in touch with the leaders.
Things went better for Kennedy in the second outing, when he took his first race win of the year, finishing ahead of English and Aaron McBride.
The Superbike and Supersport Cup opener was won by John Hannon.
He came from behind to take the race win by just .3 of a second over Joe Brouder. Raymond O’Neill was third.
Brouder had his revenge in race two, winning by a second from Hannon, while Charles Stuart was a distant third.
Christian Elkin had no equals in the Supertwins races.
In the first he had a comfortable win over Dave Butler with Coolock man Terry Bradley third.
Elki had a start to finish victory in race two, when he was chased hard by young Aaron Clifford.
The Duleek youngster’s 450 Aprilia just hadn’t the outright speed of 650 that was ridden by the local man. Former championship winner Dave Butler was a distant third.
Castleblaney lad Joseph Loughlin had a double in the 400 races. In the first he cleared off to win by 9.6 seconds over Richard Kerr. Toomebridge rider Cahal Graham was third, after a slight indiscretion in practice.
Richard Kerr was just 4.3 seconds behind Joe in the second outing, with Graham Whitmore finishing in third place.
Dublin’s Daniel O’Connell had a win in the opening Pre Injection race.
Riding the R6 that his late brother Peter used to race, Dan took the win, over Stephen Doyle, by over 7 seconds, with former Clubmans 600 champion, Paul McCrea in third. Doyle won the second leg, with Lee Bradshaw finishing in the runner up spot and Liam Kavanagh well back in third.
Son of former racer Eugene McManus, Eugene Junior won both of the 125 Newcomers/250 Production races.
Riding local man Roy Hanna’s GP125, Eugene was pressured hard by Clontarf lad Luke O’Higgins. Connall Courtney, from Warrenpoint, finished in third position.
There was a similar result in leg two, where the Randalstown lad won by half a second over O’Higgins. Jordan Burrows was third in this one.
Stoneyford veteran Scobby Killough and passenger Brian Butler took a nail biter in the first sidecar race.
He hounded early leader Terry O’Reilly, who had Aiden Brown in the chair, for the entire race, grabbing the race win by .4 of a second. O’Reilly finished in second place, with Dylan Lynch and Anthony McDonnell well back in third. Lynch fought his way through the field, despite a persistent misfire.
Peter O’Neill and Jack Galligan won the second race.
They had to recover from a sluggish get away to pass Terry O’Neill and Clive Russell, while Killough/Butler finished in third position.
A very enjoyable day’s sport, well run by Daire Lowe and his team.
The track was, to say the least, treacherous, for much of the day, with literally dozens of crashes during the wet morning’s practice sessions.
It’s great to be back.
This weekend sees the traditional Easter weekend double header, with Bishopscourt on Saturday and Kirkistown on Monday.
These two meetings kick start the Ulster championship.
I can tell you a wee bit about Bishopscourt, but at the time of going to press, I have had no information from the Belfast and District club about Monday’s meeting.
With thanks to Mark Sanlon for the info, the Bishopscourt meeting is shaping up to be a belter, with a bumper entry of about 200 riders.
In the Superbike class, which boasts 28 entries, Crumlin man Stephen Thompson will face Gerard Kinghan, Jamie Hamilton, Jamie Patterson, Alistair Kirk, Mark Glasgow, Derek Sheils and Keith Amor.
Derek McGee will have his first outing on Wilson Craigs bikes. Dundrods Ryan Rainey is due to make a return to racing, after a short retirement, and could well rattle a few cages if everything goes his way.
Another mouth-watering encounter should be the Supersport 600 class. Again, Keith Amor will come to the line to face William Dunlop, Christian Elkin, Robert Kennedy, Jason Lynn, Robert English, Jamie Hamilton, the Patterson brothers, Jamie and Ross, Korie McGreevy and Derek McGee.
The 600s provided some great action at Mondello last weekend and I would expect more of the same at Bishopscourt.
Jamie Hamilton comes to the line in the Supertwins races as well. He is due to face Christian Elkin, Robert Kennedy, Derek McGee, Dave Butler, the Chawke brothers, Liam and James and Kia McGreevy.
Add to these races the Pre Injection class, the Newcomers and Production 250 class, Moto3/GP125’s and a combined Classic/Forgotten Era class and we are in for a great days sport.
Sadly, the club have had to drop the sidecar class, as they had only 5 entries by the closing date.
The 16 race programme will get under way about 11am, after practice. It’s due away at 9am.
Admission is £10, which includes a race programme, while under 16s go free.
I would imagine that Mondays Kirkistown meeting will be much the same, but the Belfast and District club have given me no information about the days proceedings.