Two Kerry riders found themselves in the centre of sabotage at the final road racing event of the year.
Ballyduff’s Anthony O’Carroll and Ardfert’s Stephen Walsh were two of several Southern-based riders who entered last Friday and Saturday’s Antrim 150 in Clough.
Things took an unusual turn on Thursday evening when the death of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was announced.
As the event runs under a Motor Cycling Union (Britain) permit organisers faced a dilemma. They were not sure if the race should go ahead or if it should be cancelled as a mark of respect to the dead monarch.
The Mid Antrim Club canvassed all entrants and residents living along the closed road event.
The meeting got the green light, but some teams did decide to withdraw.
On Friday the British Government said that sporting events could go ahead but marks of respect like a minute’s silence were expected.
This allowed practice to go ahead on Friday and O’Carroll set some blistering times. He qualified third for both his Supersport races and second in the Production Twins class which were due to take place on Saturday.
However, during a course inspection by club officials early on race day they found that several parts of the track had been doused in diesel oil and that tacks were scattered all over the roads.
It was simply too dangerous to allow the meeting to go ahead and they had to pull the pin on the event hours before it was due to kick off.
The alleged perpetrators also threatened Southern-based riders and teams were forced to leave the track, under advice from organisers, via a different route to the one they took to get to the circuit on Thursday night or Friday morning.
“They threw down oil all along the circuit, and rivets, and left a line of dead rats on the start/finish line,” said O’Carroll. “They came into the meeting and threatened harm to Southern riders if it ran. Pure mad stuff. Some of the lads took their registration plates off their vans [that were parked] in the paddock.”
Walsh was also enjoying his best meeting of the season. He qualified fifth for the classic race after Tralee race mechanic Der Rahilly found extra tweak’s on Walsh’s Honda.
He was bitterly disappointed that his last race of the season was cancelled.
“Outside of the racers, their own local people will have to drive around in this mess for how long?” he said.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is investigating the incident.
“Police in Ballymena received a report in the early hours of Saturday 10th September that glass, nails and oil had been deliberately spilled on Drumagrove Road, Cloughwater Road and Dunbought Road. Efforts are ongoing to clean these roads,” said a PSNI statement issued on Saturday morning.
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