Friday, December 30

2016 Irish Masters Review


Robert English took the spoils in the Masters Superbike Championship this year with 1 race left on the IFS Yamaha R1M. Never far behind was close rival Nikki Coates who consistently pestered English and capitalized on any slight error made, forced or unforced. Some terrific battles were squarely fought over the 15 rounds hosted in Mondello Park and Bishopscourt. Mark Glasgow took the third spot in this thrilling series on his ZX10r. The technology involved in today’s Irish Superbikes is such that, some wouldn’t look out of place lining up on a British Superbike or Superstock grid these days.

Robert English (c) Ryan Fegan

Superbike Cup

The Superbike Cup championship had all the makings of a family affair with Wayne and Barry Sheehan showing up in an attempt to claim the series. Charles Stuart took the championship comfortably in the end in a tremendously entertaining season that competes in the same grid as the main Superbike series. Cahal Berill and Shane O’Grady took 4th and 5th respectively in a year that was definitely more exciting than the points table shows as Stephen “Ham” McCormack brought home 6th.

Stephen McCormack (c) James Foley


Supersport lived up to its expectation as a thrilling series with the Championship going to Luke Johnston after a tumultuous scrap with Jason Lynn and Richie Ryan. It almost went to the wire but, in the 2nd last race of the very last round, Luke rode a textbook race knowing a placed finish would bring home the title. Jason Lynn brought more competition to a heavily subscribed field of riders, leaving the Supersport B races and championship equally as cut throat. Richie Ryan was never far from the front and took wins that included back to back results in round 1 Mondello. In some ways, the Supersport races eclipsed the Supebikes in terms of drama and excitement with the nature of the racing and the huge field of entries. In keeping with the Superbikes, many of these machines could and have ran well in British races such as the Thundersport series, ever increasing the need for reliable sponsors within Irish racing at this and many levels.

Luke Johnston (c) Andy Quinn

Supersport Cup

Aaron Clifford was the Meath Master in the Cup championship and dominated almost every race while claiming Pro podiums along the way in his first full season aboard the ZX6r. Other regulars on the Supersport Cup podium were Des MacKessy on his self prepared Triumph 675R and Paul Carroll. The Supersport cup championship is an excellent level for an aspiring racer to challenge in. It can give the rider a bigger glimpse of the closeness of Supersport racing without the full expense of a Pro season while competing in the same race as a Pro rider.

Aaron Clifford (c) Andy Quinn

Production twins

Harry McConville wins the Production Twin championship for another year after having an extremely controlled and consistent season. Will he be back to compete again on a twin or will we see him in a different class while being mentored by the wise old man that is RPM owner, Ronan Pentony. Eoin O’Siochru and Jamie O’Keefe kept the battle for 2nd and 3rd place honest. The series continues to provide an excellent entry level championship for new riders and provides a key stepping stone to more challenging competitions.

Harry McConville (c) James Foley


The Supertwins championship was decided in the very last race of the year in Mondello park as Aaron Armstrong pipped Dave Butler to the title. Throughout the year, strong performances also come from Joey O'Loughlin but, Michael Nagle picked up 3rd in this series. Dave Butler also took his Kawasaki to compete successfully in UK Thundersport and found time to both passenger and drive an F1 sidecar!

Aaron Armstrong

Principal Insurance Preinjection

Kevin Dempsey 44 (c) James Foley
There were no surprises about the lap times and tight racing provided by this class. The addition of Principal Insurance brought with it added attention to the series. James McKenna, Kevin Dempsey and Stephen Doyle were the championship 1, 2 and 3 here as sub-minute Mondello laps were essential to be anywhere near Pole Position. The grids for Principal Insurance Preinjection were always heavily subscribed proving that this championship will always be popular with both racers and spectators alike.


It’s always more difficult to retain a championship than to win one in my opinion but, Graham Whitmore shrugged his shoulders as he won back to back Lightweight Supersport titles in 2015 and 2016. All Eoin Collins and Marty Whearty could do was watch and hope for mistakes and mechanical failures that never happened. As these “pocket rockets” age and performance parts become less and less available, the future of this competition may be uncertain, one factor you can’t ignore is the willingness of its competitors to share spares and expertise to allow its continuance.

Graham Whitmore (c) James Foley


My first ever opening into the world of Irish racing was aboard an F2 sidecar and as such I make no apology about being constantly drawn to these 3 wheeled tarmac terrorists. Dylan Lynch and Brian Butler may have looked comfortable winners in the end but, didn’t have it all their own way as gremlins forced a few retirements early on in the season. Once sorted there was no stopping them in Mondello and indeed Bishopscourt as Derek Lynch and Michael Keogh looked on and collected 2nd place in the championship. Isle of Man TT competitor Terry O’Reilly went back to his roots and claimed 3rd on the Honda powered F2 bike with Aidan Browne in the chair. A couple of extra outfits appeared during the year with Mick Donovan, Paul May and Peter O’Neill forming the grid on a regular basis.

Dylan Lynch 46 (c) Big Joe


The 125cc 2 –stroke and 300cc twins is always keeping an eye on for up and come promise and this year was no different as Rhys Irwin picked up the title. Maurice Kiely ensured he wouldn’t run away with the series and finished a very credible 2nd only 14 points adrift. Shane O’Donovan learned a lot during the year to come home in 3rd again showing what an important championship this is for future talent to be nurtured. We’ll be keeping the radar on these guys as their racing careers progress.

Rhys Irwin (c) John Burke

 Photos credited where possible.

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