Kerry riders to the fore as motorcycle racing makes welcome return
There was plenty of Kerry celebration at Mondello Park over the weekend as the Irish motorcycle racing season got underway at last.
The opening three-race meeting of the Dunlop Master Superbike Championship attracted well over 180 riders – 12 of them from Kerry and they weren’t there to make up the numbers.
SUPERBIKE PRO AND SUPERBIKE CUP
Emmet O’Grady was on his first outing on his new Honda Fireblade, and his weekend got progressively better during each race he contested.
He finished sixth in the opening race on Saturday afternoon before taking a fifth and then a fourth place on Sunday.
“Things are going in the right direction anyway,” he said. “I need to work on my race fitness, my arms were locking up near the finish.”
His brother Evan was the star of the show in the Superbike Cup category. On his first outing since August 2019, he took two wins and second place in the class.
“I am happy with the weekend. I did a lot of work, training every day, yoga, cycling,” said the Suzuki rider, “The bike is transformed since the last time out – I have fitted it with a race shock, it was only a road shock before.”
Ballyduff’s Dean O’Grady took third in the opening Cup race. Killarney-based Frank Doherty had to sit out race one as the battery pack in his Yamaha R5 failed on the start-line. Doherty was fourth in race two and three, while Dean O’Grady was sixth but was back on the podium for the final race , taking third.
Evan O’Grady leads the class championship after the weekend with Dean O’Grady holding third.
Asdee’s John Griffin, on his second season on his BMW 1000RR, recorded seventh, eighth and fifth in the Cup class over his three races.
SUPERSPORT AND SUPERSPORT CUP
Andrew Murphy’s third-place finish in the final Supersport race was a just reward for a difficult weekend. The Mountcollins rider crashed out of his opening race on Saturday while fighting for fourth place. The damage to his Yamaha was severe. It looked like he would not be racing on Sunday. A trojan effort by his team, led by his father Martin, had the bike someway repaired in time for race two, where he finished fourth and backed this up with a podium finish in race three.
Tralee’s Robert O’Connell took second place in the opening Supersport Cup race, fourth in race two and second in race three to leave the County Kildare track in third place in the championship standings.
Anthony O’Carroll’s best result of the weekend was tenth in race three as he struggled to get back up to race pace after the long lay-off.
“Not our fastest outing, but just a weekend of trying to remember how to race a motorbike, our pace is coming back slowly,” he said.
Jack O’Grady recorded two top eight class finishes throughout his three-race weekend.
Tralee’s Darragh Crean took one class win and a brace of second places over the weekend. His main rival for the class title is returning Dubliner Terry Bradley who took two wins and a second over the three races. Crean trails Bradley by five points after the opening three rounds of the championship.
“I am disappointed, I came here to win,” said Crean, “But it’s a long season. A huge thanks to all the Kerry boys and girls for their help over the weekend.”
Samantha Martin made her championship debut on a similar Suzuki to Crean’s bike, a steady run in the opening two races netted top 20 finishes but a brake problem halfway through the final race forced early retirement.
Kilflynn’s Dylan McElligott was just happy to be out racing. He made his race debut and will be joined by his brother Tom later in the season after the latter’s bike suffered an engine failure in testing in the run-up to the Mondello Park event.
Three was a magic number for Killarney’s Siobhan Ardner. She was on passenger duty for Fergus Woodlock in the sidecar races and the Kerry/Dublin team took three third-place finishes across their three events over the weekend. It was Ardner’s first time winning a trophy after three years in the sport and she managed to bring three of them back to Killarney.
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