2019 Race Report

Event Report by Jack Corry.                                                                                                    21st July 2019.

After the tragic events of Walderstown last weekend, road racing needed a boost, and it came at the right time, as the road racing circus moved to the beautiful village of Faugheen, set at the foot of the Slievenamon Mountains. The racing was some of the best we have seen all season.

Road conditions were perfect for practice and qualifying, and at the end of the sessions on Saturday, there was the first race of the programme, and that was the Junior support non-championship race. Rush barber Vinny Brennan is having his best ever season, but the gearbox on his Kawasaki blew up on the first lap of qualifying, technically leaving him stranded, but help was on hand, when Ballymoney rider Tommy Henry gave Vinny the use of his Supertwin, and Vinny repaid his generosity, by taking the race by the scruff of the neck, and taking a well-deserved victory over the vastly experienced John Ella, with John O’Donovan third.

Before the main race day on Sunday, a minute’s silence was held in memory of the late Darren Keys who tragically lost his life at Walderstown, and the organising Faugheen club even left the pole position vacant in memory of Darren which was a fine gesture as Darren had qualified in pole position last weekend.

The first race was on the road just after 11, and what a cracking race it turned out to be, with the Senior Support championship points up for grabs. From the drop of the flag it was Cookstown winner Tommy Henry, who had qualified fastest in practice, and he stormed into the lead followed by Darragh Trappe, with championship leader Andy McAllister in third. Very few were watching the progress of Dermot Cleary who started in the second group, and he was making his way up through the field on corrected time. Tommy Henry had a three second lead on the road over Trappe, but he slacked off on the last lap, never thinking of the rider coming from the second group, and at the line Henry shook his fist in delight, thinking that he had won the race, but he was denied his second win of the season by 0.563 of a second, with Trappe in third. McAllister still leads the championship as the circus moves back north to Armoy next weekend, by 13 points over Henry, with Cleary now up to third just 8 points behind the Ballymoney rider.

The Open Superbike race was next up, and the gladiators of road racing didn’t disappoint the large crowd either, with the top three Superbike riders locked together in a combat over six laps of the 2.2 mile course. Derek Sheils was first to lead with Micko Sweeney and Derek McGee in close company. Then it was McGee who took the lead, and he held it until the last lap, when Sheils made his move and literally mugged McGee at the last corner to take a trilling win by just 0.051 of a second with Sweeney just 0.142 of a second in third.

Skerries rider and former Irish 400 road race champion David “Howy” Howard took his second win if the season, after a titanic battle with Cork rider Stephen Tobin, as the pair pulled away from the rest of the field during the six lapper. Howard held court at the front for the full race distance, and try as he might, Tobin just couldn’t squeeze past the flying Skerries rider, and Howard took the chequered flag by another slim margin, 0.134 of a second, with Stephen Morrison 22 seconds adrift in third. Morrison takes a two-point lead in the championship over Darryl Anderson to Armoy, with Paul Williams third and Howard up to fourth. In the Southern championship Howard has a one-point lead over Morrison, with Anderson third, five points adrift of Howard.

Derek McGee made his return on the beautiful Italian Moto 3 250 Honda, and like Cookstown and Tandragee, he destroyed the field to take his third win of the season. The real battle was behind with championship leader Gary Dunlop, Melissa Kennedy and her wbrother Wayne locked together in a cracking battle. By half distance Dunlop was just ahead, but he overshot the first corner allowing Melissa and Wayne through. Dunlop rode the wheels off the Joey’s Bar Moto 3, but he just couldn’t get past the brother and sister ahead of him, with Melissa taking her second, second place of the season and her brother Wayne setting for third ahead of Dunlop. Dunlop leads the Irish Championship on 111 points as he heads to his local race at Armoy next week, with Melissa Kennedy and Derek McGee tied for second on 75 points, and Nigel Moore, who finished a lowly 6th place now fourth in the championship. Dunlop has just a seven-point lead over Melissa Kennedy in the Southern Centre Championship, with Wayne Kennedy third. Dunlop will miss the next southern round in Cork in two weeks’ time as he will be at the Classic Festival in Bishopscourt riding one of his late father’s classic Honda’s. Sean Leonard finished in 7th place.

Brian Mateer continued his domination of the 250 Classic class taking his fifth win of the season as he beat Richard Ford by over seven seconds with Phillip Shaw third. Mateer has a 13-point lead over Phillip Shaw in the Irish Championship with Kyle Parkes third a massive 59 points behind Mateer. In the Southern Championship Mateer is 23 points ahead of Shaw, with Ford 35 points adrift, with two rounds remaining.

Ed Manly blitzed the opposition in the 350 Classic Class, beating Mick Brady by over 22 seconds, with Ian Thompson third. Current Irish Champion Barry Davidson who missed this event still leads the Irish Championship by 10 points over Manly, with Ian Thompson third 23 points adrift of Davidson. Manly is in control of the Southern Championship as he leads Thompson by 18 points with Brady third 31 points back. Portrane rider Sean Leonard was lying third up to the last lap, but he slipped back to fourth.

The Supersport 600 class is one of the premier class in road racing and once more the top three on the Irish roads lined up to battle it out on a course that really suits the 600 machines. From the drop of the flag it was Sheils who took the lead from Sweeney and McGee, but that was short lived as Sheils retired on the next lap after losing power on the Roadhouse Macau Yamaha, giving the lead to Sweeney. McGee led the next time the riders broke the timing beam with Sweeney and Mike Browne close behind. McGee crossed the line the next time around, but it was Browne who was up to second, but Sweeney crossed the line behind the Cork rider visibly shaking his fist in disgust. McGee took his second win of the day by just 0.958 of a second from Browne with Sweeney third 1.719 seconds adrift of McGee. Sweeney was furious at the passing manoeuvre of Browne and he made his point known to Browne when they returned to the paddock. Darryl Tweed finished in a fine fourth place to lead the Irish Championship by 15 points over Micko Sweeney, with McGee third 25 points adrift of the Skerries rider. Sweeney now leads the Southern Centre Championship with 56 points and Tweed is on 45, with Browne third on 33 points.

The Junior Support Championship race was next up, but it only lasted one lap, when the red flag went out after a rider crashed on the approach to Faugheen village. The medical team were dispatched to the scene, but thankfully the rider returned to the paddock in the medical car. The restart was no better as three riders came to grief at the first turn, with the red flag once more coming out. Thankfully all three were ok, but under the rules there cannot be a restart once there are two red flags in the race.

The Supertwin saw Micko Sweeney take the lead over Derek McGee and James Chawke on lap one, but McGee was in front the next time around with Sweeney just ahead of Chawke. There was drama on lap three as McGee’s Kawasaki expired in the village leaving Sweeney clear to take a 7 second win over Manx Grand Prix winner Chawke, and Darryl Tweed finishing third ahead of his Ballymoney neighbour Tommy Henry. Sweeney leads the Irish Championship on 86 points, with McGee on 50, Vinny Brennan on 49 and Tommy Henry on 48. Sweeney has a slender 5 points lead over fellow Skerries rider Andy Farrell in the Southern Centre Championship, and Farrell who wasn’t riding at the weekend, will hope for a good result in Cork, and Tommy Henry is up to third on 33 points.

The 500 classic class saw Ed Manly take an early lead, and he was in complete control until lap four when the Ashbourne rider retired, as did Sean Leonard who was lying third. This left English visitor John Leigh Pemberton in to take his first win on Irish roads over Freddie Stewart with Andy Kildea third. Richard Ford took an easy win in the 1000 Classic class, with an 18 second win over Ian Thompson, and Phillip Shaw taking third.

The scene was set for the Grand Final and it turned out to be another cracking race, with the top trio locked together in a high-speed freight train, with Sheils leading Sweeney and McGee on lap one. McGee was in front on lap three, with less than .5 of a second separating the trio. McGee lead as they approached the village on the last lap, but Sheils went the long way around and surprised McGee with this manoeuvre and the Dubliner held on to win by 0.329 of a second, and Sweeney taking third 0.672 of a second in third.

McGee took the Man of the Meeting award, with Sheils taking the fastest lap of the Meeting at 105.164mph, and he was also the fastest Southern rider of the meeting. Richard Ford was the Fastest Classic rider, with Swiss visitor Tommy Felder taking the furthest traveled rider. There was a special award in memory of a great club member Caroline Hearne who passed away suddenly recently, called “Against all the odds award” and this was presented by her family to Rush barber Vinny Brennan.

An absolutely cracking meeting with top class road racing, and the roads were open at 2.40, with the presentation finished at 3.30 just before the rain arrived. A credit to all concerned.

Jack Corry.