Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor made welcome returns to Tandragee last weekend, but the weather proved the dominant force.
After Friday’s practice sessions, which were held in near perfect conditions, the Saturday was ruined by the incessant rain and a cold biting wind.
Clerk of the Course RJ Woolsey, mindful of the bad weather forecast for Saturday, decided to run the first Superbike race of the weekends programme. From the start it was Jamie Hamilton who called the tune, followed by Farquhar, William Dunlop and Derek McGee. As the race progressed Farquhar went into a lead that he never lost again, while Dunlop gave chase and for a while looked like he was going to take the race win.
Farquhar held the Ballymoney man off, winning by .4 of a second. The top two had moved well away from Hamilton, who was being closed down by McGee in the closing stages of the race. We only had one local rider in this race. Kells man Dennis Booth finished in 18th place with a fastest lap of 97.959mph.
With heavy rain forecast for later in the day, Saturdays racing got under way on already wet roads. The first race of the day was the Junior Support event. Cork man Brian Coomey led from the start, but the race was red flagged on the second lap. After another warm up lap, and a three lap race, Coomster was looking like he was going to take the win, but his bike ran out of fuel with less than a mile to the finish.
It gifted the race win to road race newcomer Rhys Hardisty. The Abergavenny rider had been a distant and lonely second place, having moved well away from Armoy man Tommy Henry. Thomas Whitmore had also been well in the mix, but he was another man destined to run out of fuel on the last lap. Setting the fastest lap of the race on the final circuit, Henry finished as the runner up, just 1.5 seconds adrift of the race winner, while Noely Bertram got the better of a good race with Barry Sheehan to finish on the podium.
There’s little doubt that the Supersport 600 race lost much of its lustre when some of the top riders opted not to race due to weather.
Jamie Hamilton shot off the line and led for the first part of the race. It wasn’t long before William Dunlop, riding Randalstown man Chris Dowds’ R6, took over at the front and built a good lead. There was no one in Dunlop’s class as he went on to win by 8.6 seconds, in a four lap race. Derek McGee finished in a lonely second place, riding Wilson Craigs Honda, while Jamie Hamilton dropped to third place, due largely to what I understand was a helmet problem. Our only local rider here was Sam Wilson. The Ballymena man finished in a steady fourth place and had a fastest lap of 93.581mph.
Next up was the combined Classic race. Truth is it wasn’t much of a race, not for the lead anyway. Right from the lights Ryan Farquhar disappeared. Taking almost 12.5 seconds a lap out of the rest of the field, Farquhar, on one of the beautiful sounding replica Patons, took a comfortable race win. In second place, Paul Coward was coming under pressure from former GP winner Jeremy McWilliams.
McWilliams was moved to third due to the fact that Glarryford man Barry Davidson was forced to retire when his Honda dropped onto one cylinder. “I only had one practice lap on Friday night because the clutch packed up. I started from the back of the grid and the bike was only running on one cylinder. No break downs in about two years and then this,” he told me. At the minute he thinks it was just water round the ignition.
The SS400/GP125 and Moto 3 race was next on the card. Nigel Moore was the first to show in the GP class, chased by Paul Robinson, Paul Jordan and Ballymena’s Sam Wilson, riding the Joeys Bar backed Honda. Wilson moved through to catch Robinson, despite having the handicap of losing his right footrest on the opening lap. On the final lap Sam was into the lead, but fell heavily and the race was red flagged. He was treated for a suspected broken ankle and hand. The result was called at the end of lap two, and Robinson declared the winner. Nigel Moore was second and Paul Jordan third.
Apart from Sam Wilson, who is listed as a non finisher, our only other local man was Galgorms Neil Kernohan. He finished in a brilliant 5th place, lapping at 80.743mph.
Run concurrently with the GP125’s the SS400 race went to Ian Morrell. Taking almost 41 seconds out of second finisher Paddy McColgan, Morrell was in a class of his own, never even looking like he was going to be caught. Paul Gartland, from Ederney near Enniskillen finished in third place.
Setting the fastest lap of the race, with a speed of 89.611mph, Neil Kernohan took a race win in the GP250 class. He finished well ahead of Paul Robinson, with Michael Sweeney well back in third. Due to the weather Sweeney opted to sit out the majority of the days races. Jamie O’Brien was the winner of the Forgotten Era 350 race. Riding a Maxton Yamaha, Liverpool based O’Brien had little opposition. Second placed Des Butler, on a 500 Honda was 7.5 seconds back at the finish with Paul Coward almost a minute adrift.
The feature race of the day was the Tandragee 100 event. William Dunlop relegated fast starting Jamie Hamilton to second place, while Derek McGee, tactically choosing his 600 over the Superbike realising that the 600 would be easier ridden in the conditions, rode a canny race to take a distant third place.
Co Meath rider Kevin Fitzpatrick had a fairly comfortable win in the Senior Support race. By now many people had already started for home due to the weather. Fitzpatrick took the lead on the opening lap and was never headed as Gloucester man Joe Newbould took a distant second. Brian Coomey had been involved in good dice with Dean Campbell for the final podium slot. Coomey dived down the inside of the Cookstown man on the final bend, but with the finish line only feet from the bend, Campbell was able to get the run across. Just .2 separated them at the end.
The final race of the day was the Supertwins event. Derek McGee, electing to ride his own bike after having problems with the Emerald Road Racing machine, had an easy win. He went ahead from the lights and in second place, Jamie Hamilton seemingly was riding for a steady finish. Wise in the conditions. Rhys Hardisty finished in third.
It’s always sad when a clubs hard work and preparation fall victim to the weather. IThat said, the Clerk of the Course, RJ Woolsey and the rest of his team, done a great job. My own thanks to the ladies in the club hospitality tent for the cups of tea and sandwiches over the weekend.
It’s another trip to Mondello this weekend for the next round of the Irish Superbike series, this time on the National circuit.