Friday, March 25

Masters Superbike Championship – Mondello Park March 20 2016

Irish Short Circuit racing resumed last weekend as Mondello Park welcomed back the first round of the Masters Superbike championship and supporting classes. Conditions were quite favourable for the time of year as cloud covered track in the morning turned to bright sunshine for the afternoon.

Qualifying took place in cool but dry conditions in Mondello Park. The National track looked immaculate for the 1st round of the Mondello Masters and the paddock was buzzing with excitement as the last minute changes were made.

Regulation changes governing all classes didn’t cause any issues as all passed through scrutiny unhindered to allow Qualifying to take place on time with no major delays. Drama unfolded in the Superbike session as title contender and past Masters Championship winner Brian McCormack free-wheeled into the garage with a dejected look on his face and would take no further part in the meeting on the immaculately turned out VTL Fireblade.

Racing began on time with the Mondello staff herding the masses from the dummy grid to the start line in an efficient manner allowing the schedule to run accordingly and no bikes sitting up with overheating engines and cooling tyres. This has proved frustrating for riders and spectators alike in the past and it was refreshing to see officials and participants cooperating to ensure the flow continued for the entirety of the meeting.

First up was LWSS which seen Graham Whitmore grab an early lead from David Ging with Eoin Collins in 3rd. A normally well supported grid fielded only 9 bikes for this 12 lap race in which Eoin Collins was caught by Martin Whearty in the latter stages of the race. The podium finished with an impressive win for Whitmore followed home by Ging and Martin Whearty claiming 3rd.

The 10 lap Sidecar race was next up and saw a Suzuki 1, 2, 3 in the guise of Peter O’Neill\Jack Galligan, Dylan Lynch\Mark Gash and Derek Lynch\Michael Keogh in 3rd completing the podium. Peter O’Neill’s 99 F1 outfit came home comfortably and lead from start to finish after a typically well-made start. The Lynch outfits, also F1 Suzuki’s, tried to make inroads but, O’Neill was never in any doubt. A credible mention must be given to 4th place Mick Donovan and Dave Butler on the Honda 600 powered F2 also.

We were then presented with the Superbike and Supersport ‘B’ race which was to take us to the lunch break. In the Superbike class Shane O’Grady provided the entertainment coming from the back of the grid to take the win from Anthony Derrane with Stephen “Ham” McCormack landing 3rd spot. In the SuperSport race Daragh Burke won with Kieran Moore and Shane Sweeney finishing nicely in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Lunch came and went in the newly designed Mondello restaurant and bar but, our appetite was merely getting going for the 12 round fistfight that was up next in the guise of the Supersport 600 Masters race. Pole sitter Richie Ryan on his sponsor free Triumph 675 wasted no time in getting off the line and soon had a commanding lead from Robert Kennedy and Luke Johnston in the Pro class. No blood was spilled although things looked ominous as the race concluded with the entry of some back markers into the fray as Kennedy and Johnston closed the gap. Ryan’s experience shone through with a deft move into Turn 4 that left the job impossible for his competition and be took the chequered flag without error. In the Cup class, young Aaron Clifford showed his mettle by grabbing the win on his first outing on the ZX-6r by a large margin. Tallaght man Des MacKessy took 2nd by 7s ahead of Darragh Trappe.

The Pre-Injection championship race sponsored by Principal Insurance was won by Stephen Doyle with Paul McCrea in 2nd and Kevin Dempsey in 3rd completing the podium. The 12 lap encounter saw a field of almost 20 bikes knocking in impressive times in this hugely interesting class.

The Masters Superbikes took to the stage next with everyone expecting a proper two-wheeled scrap. Almost every rider in the field had posted lap times of under the minute as the sun came out to watch also. As the lights turned green, hammers were dropped and Robert English decided to make a break. On the ZX10r Gerard Kinghan was having none of it as Ryan Rainey clung onto 3rd in a group of 4 including Nikki Coates. As the race progressed, it was mostly English and Kinghan that stayed in front, with Rainey waiting in the wings to capitalise on any errors but it wasn’t to be. Robert English powered the R1M Yamaha across the line to win his first ever Superbike race with Gerard Kinghan less than half a second behind with Ryan Rainey picking up points in 3rd. Cody Nally’s return to racing was incident free as he finished a reasonable 5th behind Nikki Coates. In the Cup race, Charles Stuart took the honours.

The twins race came next as the meeting continued relatively incident free in the glorious weather. For the Production twins, 5 secs covered the first three riders with Harry McConville taking the win from Cathal Phelan with Eoin O’Siochru claiming 3rd in the race. In the Super twin race there were no surprises as Dave Butler strolled home ahead of Caolin Irwin on the Aprilia and Cork man Paul Hurley stepping up to 3rd.
LWSS2 was almost a repeat of race 1 however, this time Eoin Collins made the most of David Ging’s DNF by grabbing valuable championship points in 3rd while Graham Whitmore again took the win from Martin Whearty.

Then the Supersport ding dong came again which was tightly fought for the entirety of the 12 lap scrap. Richie Ryan again scored the win with a huge gap of .003s from Robert Kennedy in 2nd and Nikki Coates in 3rd 2s back. The Cup race was again taken by Aaron Clifford and also Des MacKessy in 2nd on the 675 Triumph sharing the podium with newcomer Oisin Watson on his debut at the Kildare circuit.

Next up pulled the Superbike and Supersport ‘B’ riders again and this time both Anthony Durrane and Stephen McCormack upped the ante by pulling off a 1st and 2nd respectively. Wayne Sheehan also claimed a spot on the podium while in the Supersport race, Frank Doherty took the spoils from Shane Sweeney and Kieran Moore.

The second sidecar race never reached its complete distance due to a red flag and so the race result was declared. Dylan Lynch\Mark Gash took the top spot from 2nd place Derek Lynch\Michael Keogh and F2 partners in crime Mick Donovan and Dave Butler got a 3rd place!

The 2nd Superbike race could have been so much different with Nikki Coates upping his pace for this one. A podium finish seemed certain were it not for a mistake into Turn 1 on the last lap which cost him dearly as again Robert English took the win from a storming Gerard Kinghan and again Ryan Rainey in 3rd. Another battle took place behind them as Cody Nally and Ross Patterson went at it. Cup rider claimed 4th by just over a second to a gracious Nally in 5th. That put the Cup 2nd and 3rd places to Charles Stuart and Paul Swords on the GSXR.

The Pre-Injection race 2 was also similar to race 1 as Stephen Doyle won again with Kevin Dempsey and Paul McCrea swapping places this time for 2nd and 3rd in the group.

Last race of the day was the Twins and the laps were cut to 8 due to time constraints. Mark McConville and Cathal Phelan came 1st and 2nd again in the Production race as John Bowen collected 3rd. In the Super Twins race, Aaron Armstrong won a toughly fought battle from Caolin Irwin in 2nd and the older Whitmore brother Thomas grabbed 3rd.

Pictures courtesy of Ryan Fegan, Baylon McCaughey and Johnny Sweeney. 

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