Tuesday, June 25

Tough conditions tests riders at Dunlop Masters Rounds 7,8 & 9

Changeable weather conditions at the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship at Mondello Park over the weekend of June 22nd and 23rd, led to changeable results as Luke Johnston mastered the conditions to take his first Superbike wins on the National Track while Supersport produced three first time winners.

Johnston held the lead of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship as the series headed back to the Mondello Park National Track. The Antrim man had beaten Richie Ryan, on all three occasions at the previous event as he took three second places but was yet to take a victory.

Following a slow start Johnston found himself in a distant second after only a couple of laps as Ryan got off to a flyer in race one. Johnston then began to close the gap and with three to go there was nothing in it. In the end the flag came to soon for the championship leader who was pipped at the post by two tenths of second. Waterford's Peter Moloney finished third with Thomas O'Grady taking fourth on the debut of his new Yamaha R1.

In race two Johnston again got5 away second but at beginning of lap two he dived past Ryan to take the lead. Ryan dropped back into the clutches Moloney who made his move on lap six as Johnston disappeared up the road. By the end of the twelve laps the Ulster rider had his first ever Superbike win on the National Track layout ahead of Moloney with Jamie O'Keeffe emerging from the four way battle to take the final podium spot.

For race three the Superbike grid was faced by the first wet race for the feature class in five years Away from the lights, Johnston was out of the top ten having had his worst start of the weekend, but by the end of the lap he was back to third and closing on Thomas O'Grady. By lap three Johnston was once again second and chasing Ryan who was initially opening the gap but as Johnston got used to the unfamiliar wet tyres he closed in. By the seventh of ten laps he was right with the leader and made short work of taking over at the front before pulling away to win by two and a half seconds from Ryan and O'Grady.

With half the season completed Johnston has increased his lead in the championship over Ryan while a non finish in race three has dropped Moloney back in third place, almost into the clutches of O'Grady. The concurrent Superbike Cup races had three different winners for the first time all season as Frank Doherty and Joe Grant were joined by first time Cup class winner Dean O'Grady, but it was Doherty who came away happiest as he closed the gap to Grant at the top of the table.

Saturday's Supersport race one was a fraught affair as it took three attempts to run. Championship leader Raymond Casey from Cork was eliminated in the first start following a nasty accident. On the second attempt the race got to lap four before it was stopped, leaving a six lap re-run to decide the result. Michael Owens led initially but he was passed by Luke O'Higgins on lap two just before he crashed out. O'Higgins then held sway at the front with Dave Butler, Rhys Irwin and Andrew Murphy closing in. On the final corner of the final lap O'Higgins made a mistake and crashed out slowing Butler slightly and allowing Irwin to get a run on him. At the flag Butler just held on, by two hundredths of a second, to take his first Supersport win from Rhys Irwin and Andrew Murphy. Irwin took the Cup win as well as second overall, ahead of Trevor Landers and David Duffy.

Race two took place in greasy conditions, as light rain was falling, and the result turned out to be much more clear cut. Rhys Irwin took over at the front from Pole sitter Butler in the early laps and pulled out a big advantage. Behind him Butler was initially overtaken by Murphy and then on lap twelve they were both passed by Mike Browne who had ridden very impressively to come from last on the grid having missed Saturday's qualifying and race. At the flag it was Irwin who took a maiden win on his Supersport debut six seconds ahead of Browne with Murphy third. In the Cup Owens came home second to Irwin with Landers third.

The final race was run on a fully wet track and Browne led from the front as he maintained a healthy advantage over Casey, who was now back in contention on his spare bike. Andrew Murphy was initially fourth but he worked his way past Irwin to take third at the flag, behind Browne and Casey. Irwin took an impressive clean sweep of the Cup wins on his first time out on a Supersport machine, with Oisin Maher and Dean Lacey taking the best ever results in second and third.

Monday, June 24

Rhys Irwin exceeds all expectations on Supersport debut

Donegal teenager Rhys Irwin exceeded all expectations as he made his debut in the Dunlop Masters Supersport Championship at Mondello Park on Saturday and Sunday June 22nd and 23rd. Battling changing weather conditions and a field of much more experienced riders the seventeen year old took a fantastic debut outright win as well as a hat trick of victories in the cup class for less experienced riders. Despite the success of the weekend the team were in little mood to celebrate as they heard the news which emerged from their home county of the tragic accident on the Donegal Rally.

Rhys Irwin began the weekend as one of the least experienced riders in the Supersport field, as he was having his first outing on the Superstock Yamaha previously used by his older brother Caolán. Running in the Supersport 'Cup' for less experienced riders, the Kilmacrennan youngsters aim was to take a podium in his class and possibly run at the front of the overall race and he set himself up to achieve this with second place in Cup qualifying and fifth place overall.

Having been stopped twice due to incidents Saturday's race one was finally completed over just six laps. Rhys maintained his focus throughout all of the stoppages and rode brilliantly to put himself in contention heading into the last lap. Going into the final corner he was sitting third, and best of the Cup riders, when the leader fell and delayed the second placed rider. Rhys got a better run than his rival out of the final corner, but at the flag he came up just short and missed out on a first time win by two hundredths of a second, but still took an impressive first place in the Cup class

Race two took place on Sunday morning and the conditions were tricky, as the track was greasy following light but steady rain. Having set second fastest time in race one Rhys lined up on the front row of the grid and made short work of taking the lead. The Donegal rider then proceeded to amaze onlookers with his maturity and ability as he built a lead in the difficult conditions to take a fairy-tale first win on his debut weekend.

The final race on Sunday afternoon was run on a soaking wet track with Rhys relegated to fourth on the grid due to the championships reversed grid rules. Initially he ran third but dropped back to fourth as he settled for taking a third Cup class win and preserving his bike for a planned British Championship debut next weekend.

Speaking after the win the clearly subdued rider said. “At any other time I'd be over the moon with the wins but today its a bit hard to get excited following the news from Donegal. The weekend went better than expected and I'd like to thank everyone who made it happen, including all of my sponsors and my family. We'll move on now to the British Championship at Knockhill where it will be much tougher to get the results but this weekend has been a great start so I'm really looking forward now to making my British Superstock debut.”

Friday, June 21

Johnston leads Dunlop Masters Superbike - Ray Casey returns from TT to defend Supersport lead

Dunlop Masters Superbike battles continue on Mondello Park National Track

This weekend, June 22nd and 23rd, the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship battles will continue on Mondello Park's National track layout. The Superbike and Supersport Championship riders will contest three more rounds, as the series moves towards its half way point.

The championship is currently led by Antrim's Luke Johnston whose consistency over the first six races has helped him to move ahead of reigning double champion Richie Ryan. Ryan's winning streak with his Yamaha R1 was interrupted last time out by Brian McCormack and with the longer International Track seemingly suiting those riders using BMW machinery, the Kilkenny man also had to give best to Johnston, who took three runner-up finishes.

Johnston goes into this weekend with a nine point championship lead over Ryan with Waterford's Peter Moloney next up following four podiums with his brand new Suzuki. This weekend a field of fourteen Pro riders will be joined by the faster Cup riders on what will be a very competitive Superbike grid. Leading the Cup standings is four time race winner, Waterford's Joe Grant, who has a twenty six point lead over the only other rider to taste victory this season Kerry's Frank Doherty.

The two Supersport Championship weekends have so far produced two treble winners, with Donegal youngster Caolán Irwin taking the wins in April and Waterford's Brian McCormack taking all three victories in May. On each occasion Corkman Raymond Casey has been their closest challenger, taking five second places, and with his focus no longer on the Isle of Man TT Casey will be looking to up his game this weekend to hang on to his championship lead.

The Supersport Cup has had three different winners and numerous podium finishers so far this season but Michael Owens treble on the International Track last time out has helped him to move into a slight championship lead. With just five points covering the top four, Owens, Ian Prendergast, Darryl Sharkey and Trevor Landers, the top spot of the podium could be anyone's this weekend.

Darryl Sharkey, Mark Culleton and Colin Murphy have been virtually glued together at the front of the Principal Insurance Pre-Injection races all season having taken all but two of the spots on the podium. Sharkey currently leads the way but will all three having won races, the championship is still wide open.

The PCRS Bikesport Twins series is currently led by the latest star from one of Ulster Motorcycle Racing's best known dynasties. Ross Irwin, older brother of British Superbike Championship racers Glenn and Andrew, is in his second season racing and has already found his feet with four wins to lead the Supertwins series from David Halligan.  The Production class has seen some titanic battles between Jason Cash, Jamie Collins and Robert O'Connell and these three sit well clear of the rest at the head of the championship.

The remaining classes racing this weekend will be made up of Classics, who will race on Saturday only, Junior Cup and Junior Supersport (two races Saturday and one Sunday), Sidecars and Classic Superbikes who will run with the Superbike and Supersport 'B' competitors.

Following qualifying for all classes, racing gets underway at 12:30 on Saturday. Sunday's racing begins at 10:40 with the afternoons racing streamed live from 12:40. Tickets for either day are available on-line for the reduced price of €12.50 with a two day ticket costing €20.00. For more information see www.masterssuperbike.ie.

Tuesday, June 18

McGlinchey returns to winning ways in British Pirelli National Superstock

The first of two scheduled visits to the Brands Hatch GP circuit this season proved to be an
extremely successful one for Team #109, with 2018 Dickies Junior Supersport champion
Eunan McGlinchey scoring his first Pirelli National Superstock 600 victory onboard the
Kawasaki ZX-6R 636, and Graeme Irwin narrowly missing out on a point scoring finish on
his very first visit to the historic Kent circuit.

The weekend got off to a somewhat shaky start for McGlinchey and the Cork based team.
Struggling for set up throughout the opening two free practice sessions, McGlinchey’s best
finish on Friday was a seventeenth. Into Saturday and more work was done by the team
and the Aghadowey rider, but unfortunately despite their efforts the best they could
manage was a fifth row start for Sundays race, with McGlinchey finishing the session in
fourteenth position following a small crash at Druids around the midway point.
As they arrived at the track on Sunday morning conditions were far from ideal, and a rain
shower just before Superstock 600 warm up meant a further change of settings for the
team. Despite their tough luck, a wet race played into their favour, with McGlinchey’s skill
in the difficult conditions, and a solid wet set up, it wasn’t long before he was making his
way through the field. By the mid way point the twenty-one year old had made his way
from fourteenth on the grid to the lead of the race. As the laps progressed, McGlinchey
and McGreevy were locked in a great battle for the victory. Despite the best efforts of
McGreevy on the Triumph, McGlinchey held on to take a fantastic victory in what were
horrible conditions, and put all the bad luck firmly behind him.
The victory was not only the first of McGlinchey’s career in the Superstock 600 class, but it
was also Team #109’s first victory in the class. The twenty-five points collected saw the
Aghadowey rider leap into second position in the championship standings, seven points off
current series leader, Aaron Clifford.

Carrickfergus rider Graeme Irwin had another solid weekend onboard the Team #109
Kawasaki ZX-10RR, constantly improving throughout the course of the three days. Free
practice one say the former British motocross champion finish in twenty-third, before
taking an incredible two seconds off his time later that afternoon, finishing free practice
two in fourteenth.
Following qualifying Irwin lined up in twenty-fourth position on the grid for the first of the
two part split race. As the race progressed Irwin managed to make his way through the
field, crossing the line to take nineteenth position. After refueling in pit-lane and a quick
restart, Irwin soon set back into progressing even further through the pack. Before long
he was once again in line for a points scoring finish, closing in on the top fifteen. However,
an accident at Druids saw Irwin crash out, bringing his race to a premature end.
Sunday saw a huge rain shower in the morning soak the Brands Hatch circuit, and despite
a lack of wet track time, Irwin set about his business in the third race of the weekend.
After a solid performance in what were horrible conditions at the Kent circuit, Irwin
managed to cross the line in a strong eighteenth position onboard the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
Putting the crash from the race the day before behind him, and closing out the weekend in
strong fashion.

Speaking about the eventful weekend team manager Paul Tobin said; “Eunan arrived at
Brands having never rode the circuit on anything other than his Kawasaki Ninja 400 from
last season, so it was also a learning weekend for him, having to pretty much re-learn the
track on the ZX-6R 636. We struggled a little bit with the set up of the bike throughout
free practice. We had went a certain direction with the bike at Donington Park at the last
round, but this time we went back to a setting we knew worked better for him.
Unfortunately however we weren’t able to run it as we missed morning warm up on
Sunday as it rained just before the session. In what were horrible conditions he rode a
very shrewd race, picking riders off one by one until he had made his way all the way into
the lead. It was Eunan’s first victory in the class, and it was also the teams first victory in
the class also, so we were all absolutely delighted that he managed to wrap that up for us,
and now he sits second in the championship and despite some bad luck at the beginning
of the season, he is right back in the game.”

He continued; “Following on from Graeme’s point scoring result at Donington Park he
moved onto Brands Hatch with a lot of confidence, which was another new track for him.
He only seen it for the first time on Thursday, and with it being a very hard track to learn
he was extremely impressive over the course of the weekend. He just missed out on
points again on Sunday in what were very tricky conditions onboard the Kawasaki ZX-10RR
and I think going into Knockhill his confidence will still be high having been there for a test
a few weeks ago.”

Next for Team #109 is a trip north for the only Scottish round of the season at the famous
Knockhill circuit. The track proved to be a successful stomping ground for the team last
season, with McGlinchey taking a brace of podium finishes in the Dickies Junior Supersport
class. The team will also be back to full strength with Curtis Trimble and James McManus
back in action onboard the Ninja 400 machines.

Team #109 would like to thank all their sponsors for their continued support, Liftrite.ie,
Team Green Kawasaki, Kinsale Hotel & Spa, MMD Construction, EMS Copiers, Ohlins
Racing, CMRVC, Glenn Irwin, Fuchs Silkolene, R&G, JOG Tuning, PP Tuning, Arrow
Exhaust, JTec Sports, SBS Brakes, Gorman Crash Repairs, Jim McCann & Sons Family
Butchers, James McCann Photography, Spears Racing, HEL Performance, Unlimited
Industries, Keohane Ready Mix, and Samco Sport.

Photographs courtesy of James McCann | @jmccannphoto | www.jmccannphoto.com

Monday, June 17

Sheils shines at CC's Unlimited Kells road races - Results and Images

Hugely successful return of Kells Road Races delights riders and spectators.

The return of the Kells Road Races sponsored by CC’s Unlimited was a hit all round yesterday providing some excellent races over the jumps and twists of the Meath track.

Derek Sheils was the man on fire taking 2 Superbike wins but, Paul Jordan wasn’t far behind with a Supersport win and 2nd in the Grand Final.

The Dubliner took the win in the Open race from Michael Sweeney and 3rd place Thomas Maxwell. In the Grand Final, Maxwell was also 3rd upping his game on the ZX10r.

Derek Sheils was also leading the Supersport race before retiring and Paul Jordan stormed off to win from Michael Sweeney who had his new MJR Racing R6 on show. Darryl Tweed was very impressive in the race and finished 3rd.

In the Moto3 race, Gary Dunlop was victorious despite the best efforts of Melissa Kennedy and a strong challenge from Samuel Grief. Kevin Fitzpatrick won the 125 class from Wayne Kennedy and Sean Leonard in 3rd.

The Senior Support race in memory of Alan Bonner was won by Andy McAllister. Tommy Henry rode well to finish 2nd and Dermot Cleary was 3rd.

In Junior Support, Eoin O’Siochru was on top form and was first home. Kevin Baker didn’t make it easy and pushed hard to 2nd as Vinny Brennan was a close 3rd.

A large field of Classic bikes formed the grid yesterday in all classes. Richard Ford won the 1000cc race beating Ian Thompson who was 2nd and Trevor Stewart 3rd. Ed Manly was successful in the 500cc race from Barry Davidson and Freddie Stewart 3rd. Manly also won the 350 race, 1st home ahead of Ian Thompson and 3rd place Ken Parkes. Brian Mateer lifted the 250 trophy from Richard Ford and Philip Shaw.

Darryl Anderson won the 250-400cc Championship race after and close battle with Gareth Keys and Stephen Morrison in a restarted race following a non-racing related incident.

The Supertwin grid was also well represented and Skerries rider Andy Farrell was first home. Fighting off the advances of Kevin Baker and Vinny Brennan  who would complete the podium.

Words and images (c) Andy Quinn

Tuesday, June 11



The Burrows Engineering/RK Racing team ended a challenging Isle of Man TT with a positive result in the blue riband Senior race, with Derek Sheils bringing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 home in 13th place.

Derek lapped at 127.56mph as he battled on throughout the gruelling six-lap finale even though he was struggling with sickness. He had a DNF in the Superstock race, but the Dublin rider followed up his 11th place in the opening Supersport race with 12th position in race two on his Yamaha R6.

Tom Weeden began to get to grips with the Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the Senior after missing out on much-needed track time due to poor weather throughout TT fortnight. The Kent man finished 26th and lapped at 122.89mph, while Weeden finished 24th in the second Supersport race on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Yamaha R6, lapping at 119.10mph.

With the first two major international road races over, the team’s next outing will be at the Skerries 100 Irish National meeting in County Dublin next month (July 6-7).

Team Principal – John Burrows:
“It was a positive end to the 2019 Isle of Man TT for the team, with Derek finishing in 13th place in the Senior. However, we also had mixed feelings because there is no doubt Derek had the pace to go much faster and finish higher up the leaderboard, but he was feeling sick after eating something that disagreed with him. He was vomiting and Derek just wasn’t himself, but he battle through the race and to finish 13th under the circumstances was a decent result for the team, and once again he was the first Suzuki rider home. Derek also finished 11th and 12th on his own Yamaha in the Supersport races but sadly he had a DNF on our bike in the Superstock race, when it seems to have broken a valve on the final lap at Ballacraine.

“Like everyone, we were up against it with the weather at the TT and a lack of track time, but we overcame a few issues with the GSX-R1000 Superbike and were feeling confident on Friday morning. Dunlop changed the profile of their front tyre this year and we were struggling to find our way with it a bit. You only get once chance at the TT, so it was unfortunate that Derek wasn’t just feeling 100 per-cent.

“Tom didn’t get many laps done to be fair and to lap at almost 123mph in the Senior is probably what I thought would be possible for him. Prior to the TT, I had expected that he could lap at 125mph and I do think he would have done that with more time under his belt. Tom was using Michelin rubber and he was very pleased with the feedback from the tyres.

“The next meeting for the team will be the Skerries 100 next month. We have decided to give Kells and Enniskillen a miss, which will ease the burden on us a bit as a team.”

Derek Sheils:
“It was a tough TT for both the organisers and competitors alike. We had very limited track time during practice to get the new bikes working, but it was the same for everyone. My annual bad luck at the TT continued with a dose of food poisoning on the Wednesday of race week, which meant in the races on Thursday and Friday I was really unwell and getting sick as I raced. My lap times fluctuated throughout as a result because my concentration was slipping at times.

“The Superstock bike blew an engine but all in all, I was happy to come across the line in 13th in the Senior considering I really struggled and was vomiting on laps three and four. I was pleasantly surprised with my pace on the 600 and to finish 11th and 12th was great as it’s not usually my strongest class.”

Tom Weeden:
“I was happy enough under circumstances with how the TT went this year. We had new bikes and badly need more track time to get dialled in. Prior the Superstock race, I had only done two laps on the 1000cc Suzuki, so I went into the race blind. I really enjoyed the six laps in the Senior and the team had the bike there or thereabouts for the race. It felt good and for the first time it really began to feel like my bike.

“I lapped just shy of 123mph and I’d hoped for more than that to be honest, but the weather just really left us on the back foot and at one stage we were sat around for four days doing nothing. It was my first time running slick tyres on a Superbike in the Senior and the Michelin tyres were really impressive. We’ve a bit of a break now before our next race so it’s back down to earth with a bump after the TT.”

Pictures courtesy of:
Pacemaker Press (Derek Sheils).
Baylon McCaughey (Tom Weeden).