O’Grady’s sensational NorthWest 200 debut – report and photos

Tralee racer Emmet O’Grady has vowed to return to the NorthWest 200 after finishing ninth on his road racing debut last weekend.
Ireland’s biggest road race – and the biggest closed-road motorcycle event in the world – returned after a two-year pandemic-related hiatus.
Over 100,000 fans lined the roads on Saturday, the event’s biggest day.
O’Grady who is better known for his exploits in the Dunlop Irish Masters championship at Mondello Park made what was supposed to be a one-off appearance at the County Derry track last week.
He borrowed fellow Tralee racer Darragh Crean’s SuperTwin Aprilia for a week that was far from easy.
His hectic week began on Monday with Newcomer briefings. His first taste of the track during practice and qualifying came on a very wet Tuesday.
His second qualifying session was disrupted by a fuel issue meaning he had to use his wet weather qualification time and was due to start his first race from last place as all other riders were able to use their dry weather time.
He was all set for his first race on the famous track on Thursday evening but torrential rain forced the organisers to postpone the event for safety reasons.
That race was added to the Saturday card but O’Grady was forced to pull out due to a mechanical problem. At this stage, most other racers would consider going home but not O’Grady and his team.
They fixed the problem in time for the second race where the Tralee man started 43rd and last. By the end of the six-lap race, he had worked his way up to ninth overall.
“It was a perfect end to a hard week,” he said. “I am going back next year on bigger machinery. It was fantastic to be part of this massive event. It is not often you can say you raced on a main road in front of 100,000 people.”
O’Grady paid tribute to his backroom team, parents John and Brid, mechanic Der Rahilly, supporters Rob O’Connell and David Enright and the bike’s owner Darragh Crean who all helped make his dream a reality.
The Dunlop Irish Masters resumes this weekend at Mondello Park. O’Grady will be back on his TAG Honda CBR for the Superbike races. He also hopes to debut a new Honda 600 in the Supersport Class.
The meeting has attracted its usual large entry from County Kerry including Superbike class racers Evan O’Grady and Dean O’Grady, Twins racers Crean and O’Connell and Supersport Cup class frontrunners Anthony O’Carroll and Jack O’Grady.

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