Testing, testing – motorcycle season start gets closer as local riders clock up the testing kilometres

The start of the 2021 motorcycle racing season is getting ever closer.

The weekend of June 25-27 is going to be very busy for local racers. Both the Dunlop Masters and the British Super Bike championships get underway at the end of the month.

Kerry riders have been preparing in earnest for the season ahead and have clocked up 100s of kilometres in pre-season tests.

Tralee man Emmet O’Grady is a former Irish Supersport Pro champion and will race for the Dublin-based TAG Racing Team for the 2021 season. His target: the Superbike Pro title – the highest accolade in Irish short circuit racing.

He faced a delay in sourcing parts for his new bike, as a result of Brexit – and sat out the two official tests in May.

However, he was back on track over the Bank Holiday weekend and took part in two high-speed test session – one each in Mondello Park and Bishopscourt.

“I kicked on Mondello on Sunday, it was a good day overall, “ O’Grady told Kerry Motorsport News.

“I managed to get into the low 44 seconds [lap time} which is only two seconds off the race-winning pace in the Masters.”

On Monday he went to Bishopscourt in County Derry for more testing kilometres where he was lapping at around 1m 09 seconds. Race winning pace at Bishopscourt is 1m 08 seconds and while he did not beat the target time he was happy with his pace.

“I was doing 1minute 09 seconds on used rubber,” he added. “I made a big step, I put more weight on the front of the bike but in the end, we had a small technical fault with a wheel speed sensor. Overall it was a successful day, I did not get into the 108s but happy enough with the 109s and happy enough coming away from there.”

John Grifin was back on a race bike for the first time since last September’s Masters Meeting.

He took part in the Mondello Park test on Sunday on board his BMW 1000 RR

“It was all good, he said “Just trying to get back up to speed again,

The Supersport Cup has signs of Kerry domination too. Tralee’s Robert O’Connell was second in the Masters’ standings to Jamie Collins last year.

“Mondello went great, had unreal weather and the testing went well in general with a few suspension and gearing changes,” he told Kerry Motorsport News. “Bishopscourt was better again with plenty of track times and a lot of small changes, bike is ready to go for 1st round just need to sort the rider now.

Tralee’s Darragh Crean is the man to watch in the Production Twin Class.

“Mondello Sunday testing went okay, I made a lot of changes the previous test day to chassis so I was working on my body position on the bike and keeping consistent lap times,” he said. “I love this [Bishopscourt] track, I got a feel for the bike on this track as it’s a really fast and smooth circuit, just pushed hard all day to try and improve my pace and managed to secure my fastest time ever around the circuit.”

Also racing in the Production Twin Class is Tarbert’s, Samantha Martin. She also tested recently a Mondello Park but it did not go fully according to plan.

“I had a crash at the end I was pushing to see how much I could get out of it and got another six seconds quicker since the last day. At least I’ll be able to keep up with the pack if I can hold my nerve that is.  I know I can go quicker just need more track time,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kevin Coyne got his second year in the British Superbike Championship underway with an official test session at Donington Park on Tuesday of this week.

The Farranfore-based rider is graduating to British National Superstock 600 after a full season competing in the British Junior Supersport championship last year.

“There were three sessions of which all were 40 mins long. We tried to break them up by taking a break after 20 mins and refuelling for the second half of each session,” his father Mark explained to Kerry Motorsport News.

“The first session was as expected and our setting and gearing from Mondello were good but definitely not right so we made some changes to gearing and suspension. The bike felt way better and Kevin just put the head down and reeled off the laps.

“It was very apparent we were in a different league but as ever we have to start somewhere. Only 1.5 seconds off our season goal of being able to compete inside the top 20 again.

“So while we still have a lot of work to do, we are extremely happy with our first outing in the 600 class.”

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