Tuesday, November 28

Ray Casey Roads and Short Circuit review 2017

When you’re mid-season and you take a serious tumble, or suffer a major mechanical failure you’d be forgiven for writing the year off to regroup and come back stronger. However, when you plan on competing in the Masters, National roads (including the Dundrod 150 and Ulster GP) and 2 weeks beforehand you discover you need a major operation requiring a 6 week recovery period, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the entire season altogether.

On March 12th this year, Ray Casey embarked on this recovery after undergoing a major operation in knee reconstruction, the result of an old MotoX injury. Exactly 2 weeks before the first 3 rounds of the Masters was to take place.

Hardly the ideal start to the season, Ray engaged the services of Thomas O’Flynn, a personal trainer from Persia training, to assist with the recovery which would involve a 6 week stint in a leg brace. A lot of training took place before the operation and this paid dividends as they discovered in the early days of the plan devised by Thomas. This shortened the return to fitness somewhat when in the first week of the plan; they were able to meet targets expected to be achieved in week 6! The end result of the plan was that 12 days after surgery, Ray Casey lined up on the grid of the Masters in Mondello!

Masters review

Even riding with an injury, Ray secured points in almost every round of the Masters series. In fact, not scoring points in the Supersport championship was mostly down to clashing with other events, or poor weather cancelling meetings. Having secured a clean but stock ZX6r Kawasaki, Ray had little in the kitty for major enhancements to the engine or chassis and so left it in the good hands of Shane Wogan to work his magic. A big ask considering the entries that oversubscribe the Masters Supersport pro championship. Factoring in that the top riders have proper sponsors to pay for big power engines and frequent tyre changes, it’s a tall order to fill, grabbing proper points at all!

Even facing the adversity of a stock bike and a less than 100% body, Ray managed to finish a tremendous 5th in the table, only behind 4 riders with impressive machinery and solely focused on one championship. A few extra horsepower and not having to conserve tyres so often would have a guaranteed immediate improvement to the short circuit series results.

National roads review

Ray’s road campaign was set out with a focus of competing in the fastest road race in the world, the Ulster GP. Anything picked up along the way would be a bonus. The build up to the UGP involved entering the Race of the South at Walderstown and a visit to the close by Faugheen circuit. Hopefully this would iron out any issues uncovered going from Short Circuit to Road circuits, as entering the UGP would mean 1 full week away from home practicing, qualifying and eventually racing the UGP and the mid-week Dundrod 150.

First up was Walderstown and it went well, finishing well up the field and collecting points by coming home in 10th. Faugheen was even better with a 5th place, just behind the likes of Derek McGee and Derek Sheils and again valuable championship points scored.

Inclement weather conditions dictated the schedule at Dundrod and when practise ran, qualifying wasn’t far behind and Ray would start from 30th, pretty impressive for a new entrant in a race of 50. Race day eventually beckoned and having made some changes to setup the dummy grid formed. 6 laps of the Grand Prix circuit ensued and Ray picked off a few places arrive some to finish in a very credible 26th, an excellent result for a practically stock bike.

2018 plans

Plans are afoot for 2018 already with hopefully a tuned engine to aid with the increasing top speeds. Another International too, with an entry to the infamous Northwest 200 and all going well, access to a proper Supertwin!

Ray would like to thank the following sponsors for their assistance in 2017.

James Lucey - Gallagher fencing, Brian O’Halloran from Marina Motors, Jason Tivy & co from Lee Motorcycles, Derek Smith DE Electrical Services and Tom O’Flynn from Tom Training Cork.

Words: Andy Quinn

Images courtesy of Andy Quinn, Big Joe Connolly and John Burke

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