Kerry motorcycle mafia – part two/ six

Motorcycle racing is set to return this weekend with an official but behind closed doors test session at Mondello Park

Kerry Motorsport News will preview the season by republishing a series of articles that were originally published in Road Racing Ireland magazine

SUPERBIKE PRO AND SUPERBIKE CUP

It is no surprise that O’Grady’s two sons, Emmet and Evan are leading the Kerry charge.

Emmet is a former Irish Supersport Pro champion and will race for the Dublin-based TAG Racing Team for the 2021 season.

As well as tackling the full Dunlop Masters Superbike series he has a deal in place to contest selected rounds of the Northern Irish Championship and at least three rounds of the British National Superstock Championship.

O’Grady will have a brand-new Honda Fireblade CBR 1000 at his disposal, a machine he tested in non-race form at Mondello during a Dunlop Masters event in September.

“We seem to have built a racing community down here,” explains the multiple Irish champion across several classes. “In the off-season we all train together, there could be 15 of us out cycling, or training in the gym together and even that is competitive. On a race weekend, we will take three garages side-by-side. We all eat out together at night, nobody gets left behind, and it is all about sharing knowledge and each of us being competitive against each other,”

Brother Evan will return to racing after a one-year absence and will race a Suzuki GSXR 1000 in Superbike Cup class.

John Griffin is another Kerry-based competitor who will make a serious attempt in the Superbike Cup category.

The BMW 1000RR says his love of the sport came from his father John Sr who lived in New York between 1984 and 2000 where he raced in legendary events likes the Daytona 200.

“I grew up listening to his stories,” explained John Jr from Asdee in the north of the county. “He raced at please like Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia and Louden [New Hampshire Motor Speedway]”

This year will mark John Jr’s third season on the Irish scene. He tackled two Dunlop Masters meeting in 2017 and last year entered the King of Kirkistown event and the only Masters’ meeting to take place. He qualified on pole position for the Cup race, in County Kildare, on that occasion, signalling his intent for the year ahead.

Killarney’s Frank Doherty sat out last season but in 2019 he was very much to the front of the Superbike Cup championship. The Yamaha R1 rider finished second to Joe Grant and is ready for a return to action this year.

“You could group Cork and Kerry together as one, two counties that have a high involvement in motorsport,” he says. “This is just another branch of motorsport and it seems to be growing.”

One reason motorcycle racing seems to be gaining in popularity is the cost. Doherty tried his hand at rallying before switching to two wheels a few years ago.

“You can do a full season of the Dunlop Masters for the same cost as getting ready for the Rally of the Lakes, that is six good weekends instead of one good weekend every year,” he adds.

Dean O’Grady from Ballyduff, no relation to Emmet or Evan, is another expected frontrunner in Superbike Cup races, a regular class podium finisher on his Kawasaki ZX10R. He finished third in the championship, behind Doherty, two years ago and that contest for local bragging rights is set to continue this season.

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