Monday, July 29

More strong performances from Irwin brothers at Snetterton BSB round

Irish Motorcycle Racing stars Caolán and Rhys Irwin once again proved their ability with strong but very different performances at the latest rounds of the British Superbike Championship at Snetterton, Norfolk, on Saturday and Sunday July 20th and 21st. Rhys was back in British Talent Cup action while Caolán was running in the British National Superstock 600 class.

The Donegal youngsters had another positive weekend with Caolán just missing out on a podium in the Superstock class while Rhys showed his ability to overcome a set back with two strong fightbacks from last on the grid following a qualifying crash.

Having made his debut in the Superstock 600 championship at Knockhill two weeks previously, Rhys was back in British Talent Cup action once again at Snetterton. Having started steadily in practice the Donegal teenager was ready to challenge for the top spot in qualifying and set the fastest time of the session on his fifth lap. Unfortunately he then crashed out on lap six and as the track dried all of his rivals went quicker to leave him on the back row of the grid for both races.

A strong run in Saturday's race one saw Rhys run as high as eleventh but he then dropped back to finish thirteenth as his set up did not suit the drying track. Race two went much better as the Irish rider climbed to seventh place at the flag just failing to catch the group battling for third place. Two more points scoring finishes mean that Rhys heads for the final two events, which support the Czech and British MotoGP rounds, with a chance of taking third in the Talent Cup championship.

Speaking after race two, Rhys said, “I really made it hard for myself with my crash in Qualifying. I was left having to start from the back of the grid with a limited chance to adapt the bike to the conditions, but I was happy with the speed I showed and the number of places I made up, particularly in the second race. We're off to Brno next as a support to MotoGP and I'm aiming to impress there and hopefully move myself into contention for a top three finish to the championship.”

Caolán Irwin continued his progress in the Superstock 600 class as he achieved his best qualifying position of the season to line up on the front row of the grid for the first time. A steady start to the single championship round put the Donegal rider in third place on his Ready4Racing Kawasaki and he remained in the thick of the battle throughout.

Moving up to second at half distance Caolán held the runner-up spot going onto the final lap but was pushed wide by an overtaking move by the third placed rider leading to him dropping two places to finish fourth, just shy of his second podium of the season.

“I cant believe I'm disappointed with a fourth placed finish” was Caolán's reaction after the race. “earlier this season I'd have taken it if you'd offered me a fourth place finish before any of my races, but now its a measure of the progress that we've made that's it's a disappointing not to make the podium. I have to thank the team for all the hard work they've put in and for their faith in me when things weren't going so well. I also have to thank all of my sponsors especially Wesley of Clean Rubber, Oasis Bar, PCRS Bikesport and everyone else who helps me out.”

The Irwin Racing brothers will both be back in action over the first weekend in August with Caolán in Superstock action at Thruxton, UK and Rhys on British Talent Cup duty in Brno in the Czech Republic.

Richie Ryan and Brian McCormack dominate Dunlop Masters at Mondello Park

Kilkenny's Richie Ryan was back to his best at Rounds 10 – 12 of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship at Mondello Park this weekend (July 27th & 28th) as he took two wins and a second place to grab back the championship lead from his Antrim rival Luke Johnston by a single point. In the Supersport championship, Cork's Raymond Casey continues to lead the way but his margin is now reduced as Waterford rider Brian McCormack took a hat-trick of wins.

McCormack took Superbike pole on his ON1 Racing BMW, from the Mobil 1 Yamaha of Ryan and Johnston's Unlimited Industries BMW and by mid way in race one it looked like the Tramore man would continue the dominance he showed on his last visit to Mondello Park as he led from Ryan. A strong late race challenge from the reigning champion almost stopped McCormack but he held on to win by three tenths of second, with Johnston third.

Ryan's strong pace in race one gave him pole for race two which he converted into an early lead over McCormack. The top two battled it out for the entire race but it was the Kilkenny man who took the spoils despite a number of overtaking attempts by McCormack. Johnston came home third ahead of Dubliner Thomas O'Grady and the much improved TAG Honda of Emmet O'Grady from Tralee.

The final race grid saw Ryan, McCormack and Johnston line up on the second row but the reversed grid did not last long as by the end of lap one, McCormack was once again hounding Ryan with Johnston third. By half distance the three were nose to tail but at the flag Ryan held them both off to take his second win of the weekend, grabbing back the championship lead from Johnston in the process. McCormack's strong weekend moved him into fourth place in the points right on the tail of Thomas O'Grady. The Superbike Cup battle produced two more wins for Joe Grant and one for Dean O'Grady, while three second place finishes helped Frank Doherty keep Grant in sight in the championship chase.

McCormack was also in Supersport action, this time on his Megabikes Yamaha R6 and he took pole position from Casey and Limerick man Andrew Murphy. Away from the lights the pole sitter was immediately into a lead he would hold onto until the flag while behind the battle for second went right down to the final corner. Having finished third six races running, Murphy was in determined mood as he out-braked Casey into Southside Motor Factors corner on the last lap to finally grab a runner up finish. Mark Conlin made a welcome return to the series picking up fourth place as he dialled himself in to the unfamiliar Dunlop tyres.

For race two Casey got away in the lead and he put in his best run of the season to hold McCormack off for almost the entire race distance. Once again however, he was caught out on the final corner and just failed to grab his first win of the season as his Waterford rival out-braked him on the outside and then hung on to do the double. Behind them Conlin caught and passed Murphy to take an impressive podium on his series return.

In race three it was the turn of Murphy to battle with McCormack and he managed to hold the lead until lap four before the order changed. Despite the new leaders dominance of the two previous races he was unable to break away from Murphy and once again the race came down to a last corner battle as Murphy tried around the outside and then cut back to the inside for the run to the flag, just missing out on the win by less than a tenth of a second. Casey closed in on the leaders in the final stages following a bad start, finishing third, ahead of Conlin.

Casey's third place in race three kept him clear at the head of the championship while Murphy lost his second place to McCormack by a single point. In the cup class Darryl Sharkey was the big mover as a trio of wins moved him ahead of Trevor Landers in the standings to sit just eleven points behind Ian Prendergast.

The first Principal Insurance Pre-Injection race also saw Sharkey on the top step of the podium with Ivan Oxley second and Cian Donaghy third. Mechanical issues for Sharkey in races two and three restricted him to a single seventh place finish as a pair of wins for Oxley ahead of Donaghy and Murphy moved him into championship contention.

The PCRS Twins races saw the return of former champion Dave Butler on a newly built Supertwin Kawasaki and he was back in winning form straight away, taking victory in the opening two races from Ross Irwin. A fall for Butler in race three handed Irwin his eighth win of the year while Barry Sheehan and Michael Gillan were the other riders to make the podium. In the Production class Robert O'Connell took three wins to close in on the top two in the championship, Jamie Collins and Jason Cash. Collins retained his lead with three second places, while Cash overcame some mechanical difficulties to grab the last spot on the podium in all three races.

The Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship returns to the National Track layout at Mondello Park on August 24th & 25th.

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

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,,
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 |

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