Crean’s new machine

Crean’s new machine

Reigning Dunlop Masters Production Twins champion Darragh Crean is set to move up to the Super Twins class for 2022 after taking delivery of a new Aprilia RS660 for the year ahead.

The Tralee-based racer dominated the Production class last season on board his Suzuki SV.

Of the 13 races he started, he finished either first or second in 12 of them including eight class wins.

He is now looking forward to moving up the ranks.

Crean is noted for his attention to detail and his bikes are always beautifully turned out. His off-track preparation is second to none, during the winter he rides enduro bikes to keep fit and he enters as many track days as possible to keep on the pace and to learn tracks.

“Last year I did nearly every track-day at Mondello,” he added, “That is what did it for me [win the championship]. I got a lot of help from JOG Tuning and Mark Arnott in terms of bike set up and Emmet O’Grady gave me great race craft advice. I was determined – I had one thing in the head and that was to win the championship.”

He runs his own business – Nedar Heat – one of Ireland’s leading stove suppliers and does a lot of business in Italy.

Super Twin champion Michael ‘Micko’ Sweeney’s Kawasaki ER6 was up for sale and Crean considered buying it before a chance discussion with one of his Italian business partners.

Nedar are the Irish importer for Klover wood and pellet stoves and the Italian firm offered support if he went down the Aprilia route.

“Micko always said I had first refusal on his bike, it is probably the best SuperTwin in Ireland,” he added. “I was going to look at it when a factory Aprilia  popped up and with sponsorship from Klover we decided to go ahead with it for next year.”

He took delivery of the new machine towards the back end of last year – the first one of its kind to arrive in Ireland – although several more are expected on the Mondello Park grid this year.

“I like nimble, smaller CC bikes, I always felt at home on them, the new bike has 30 more horsepower, better suspension and it can’t be nothing but nice to ride,” he said. “If I can be anywhere near the pace of Micko Sweeney  or Kevin Baker  I  would be happy.”

The 31-year-old started racing motorcycles in 2018 after encouragement from his friend, Superbike racer, Emmet O’Grady. 

Two full seasons in the Supersport class were not successful, the 600cc bikes were just too powerful for a newcomer so at the end of 2019 he bought a Suzuki SV and stepped down to the Production Twin class.

Preparation for the 2020 went well, he joined one of the popular pre-season tests in Spain and entered a few track days at Mondello Park before Coronavirus raised its ugly head and shut down every sport across the world.

To their credit, the organisers of the Dunlop Masters did get one non-championship meeting off the ground in the Autumn of that year.

In just his second meeting competing in the Production Twin class, he left Mondello Park on that  September Sunday evening with two race wins and a second place.

He made his debut in the class at the King of Kirkistown meeting the previous month, finishing third and fourth in his two races there and he carried that form to the County Kildare track.

Before taking up short circuit racing he raced Quads to a high-level between 2005 and 2011, finishing third in the Irish National Championship in  2009.

He also finished in the top 20 in the legendary Enduro du Touquet Pas-de-Calais in France sharing a quad with fellow Kerry riders Ray O’Neill (another accomplished short circuit racer and now rally driver) and Adam O’Shea and against 130 other crews.

But for now the Tralee man is focusing on the opening round of the Dunlop Masters and while April 23 can’t come soon enough, in the meantime he will join another Irish expedition to the South of Spain for a pre-season test in March.#

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