CORRY COR­NER It’s joy on the double for su­per Sweeney

Fingal Independent - - SPORT -

THE East Coast Rac­ing Fes­ti­val, spon­sored by Ca­role Nash, fin­ished off the 2017 road race sea­son, and it was a week­end that saw lo­cal rider Micko Sweeney take his first ever double at a na­tional road race, and his first ever 600 win on the roads.

The week­end also saw the Dun­lop name on the top of the podium in the 125/Moto 3 race when Gary Dun­lop, son of the leg­endary Joey Dun­lop, took his first ever road race win, and it was an emo­tional day for the Bal­ly­money rider. There were a num­ber of Ir­ish champions also crowned on the day.

Prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing was held up on Satur­day ow­ing to a lack of flag mar­shals, but just as the rid­ers came to the grid, the rain came down in tor­rents, so the first few prac­tice ses­sions were un­der con­trol of the travelling mar­shals, but thank­fully the sun came out and the club got a num­ber of the ses­sions run be­fore they ran out of time.

The weather fore­cast didn’t look good for Sun­day, and with three prac­tice ses­sions still to run the club got ev­ery­thing go­ing on time, and de­spite a few red flags they kept the day run­ning un­til the wind and rain took con­trol. The last four races had to be dropped, which was un­for­tu­nate, but a wise de­ci­sion.

The first race of the day was the 600 non cham­pi­onship, and it was a great start for the lo­cal fans as Micko Sweeney took the lead on lap one, and de­spite the ef­forts of Derek Sheils on laps four and five to get past the Sk­er­ries rider, Sweeney seemed to be spurred on by this and the fans who were cheer­ing him on.

De­spite Sheils set­ting the fastest lap of the race on lap five at 106.013 mph, Sweeney broke the tow and took the win by 3.951 sec­onds from Sheils, with Paul Jor­dan tak­ing the final step of the podium, well adrift of the lead­ing pair.

Joseph Lough­lin had al­ready clinched both the Ir­ish and South­ern Cen­tre Cham­pi­onships prior to the week­end, and once more he to­tally oblit­er­ated the op­po­si­tion, tak­ing the win in the Se­nior Sup­port race by al­most 25 sec­onds from Sk­er­ries rider David Howard, who also fin­ished sec­ond to the Castle­blayney rider in both cham­pi­onships. Jonathan Gorm­ley took a fine third place.

There was lo­cal joy in the 350 Clas­sic race when Sean Leonard took the Ir­ish and South­ern Cen­tre Cham­pi­onships.

The Por­trane rider knew go­ing into the race that he only needed to fin­ish in top seven to clinch the cham­pi­onship.

Barry David­son has taken three wins this sea­son and led the race from start to fin­ish, but the ex­pe­ri­enced Leonard rode a steady race. Sean was sec­ond for the first three laps of the 3.6-mile course, but he was passed by Fred­die Ste­wart, and yet he still fought back to sec­ond de­spite his cush­ion of points to fin­ish 14 sec­onds adrift of David­son, with Ste­wart in third.

English rider Richard Ford took both the Ir­ish and South­ern Cen­tre 250 Clas­sic Cham­pi­onships to break the pos­si­ble record of Phillip Shaw, who had won seven Ir­ish Cham­pi­onships in a row.

If he had won the cham­pi­onship he would have be­come the only rider ever to do this in the his­tory of road rac­ing in Ire­land, but it was not to be.

Ford has rid­den so well all sea­son, and he set the fastest lap of the race at 83.971mph to fin­ish 44 sec­onds ahead of Brian Ma­teer, with Gary Hut­ton third.

The Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship race was next, and this had an in­trigu­ing fi­nale, as it was be­tween Derek Mcgee and Derek Sheils.

Mc Gee had made a mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery from the double break in his fe­mur that he re­ceived at the Ul­ster Grand Prix.

We also re­mem­ber that Sheils wasn’t al­lowed to start at Ar­moy as he had not signed on and prac­ticed on the Fri­day, ow­ing to his job as best man at his best friend’s wed­ding, so Mcgee only had to fin­ish in the top six to claim his third Ir­ish Cham­pi­onship of the year.

Derek Sheils’ spon­sor Bur­rows Engi­neer­ing had re­cruited the ser­vices of the classy English rider Davy Todd to ride his Su­per­stock ma­chine, and this could have put an­other rider in the frame to keep Mcgee lower down the field.

Un­for­tu­nately this only lasted two laps as Todd re­tired while dic­ing with Micko Sweeney for sec­ond place, and Sheils went on to take the win by over 15 sec­onds from Micko Sweeney on the MJR BMW, set­ting the fastest lap of the race at 111.294mph, with Mcgee third.

So Mcgee took the Ir­ish Cham­pi­onship, but Sheils had the con­stel­la­tion of tak­ing the South­ern Cen­tre Cham­pi­onship. Duleek rider Alan Con­nor fin­ished in eighth place.

The fi­nale of the 400 cham­pi­onships was one of the clos­est of the sea­son, with just six points sep­a­rat­ing the top three in the Ir­ish, with a lit­tle more in the South­ern, as it was still be­tween three rid­ers - Paul Gart­land, Cal­lum Laid­law, and Sea­mus El­liott.

El­liott took the lead at the first cor­ner and was never headed, but there was a great scrap go­ing on be­hind be­tween Laid­law, Howard and Gart­land.

As the rid­ers went out on their fifth lap Howard’s lower fair­ing dropped down, and he was in trou­ble, but then the red flag went out and the re­sults were de­clared from the pre­vi­ous lap, that saw El­liott take the win from Gart­land, with Howard third and Laid­law fourth.

This re­sult meant that Gart­land fin­ished as Ir­ish cham­pion on 107 points, to El­liot’s 106, with Laid­law back in third. Gart­land also took the South­ern Cham­pi­onship from Laid­law and El­liott.

The 250 class only at­tracted three en­tries, and it was com­bined with the 400s, and John Ella took the win from Vic Allen, with John Mcal­lis­ter re­tir­ing on lap three.

The Moto3/125 class came to the line next, and once more it was be­tween four rid­ers - Nigel Moore, Paul Robin­son, Gary Dun­lop and Sam Wil­son- but the lat­ter de­cided to give the race a miss for some rea­son, so it was left to the trio to slog it out.

Robin­son led from the start fol­lowed by Gary Dun­lop, Melissa Kennedy, Sea­mus El­liott, and Nigel Moore. As Robin­son crossed the line to start his sec­ond lap, he slowed dra­mat­i­cally, and by the Man O War cor­ner he had re­tired, leav­ing Gary Dun­lop in the lead.

On lap five the red flag went out as Sea­mus El­liott crashed out in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion as he was flat out through Kil­lalane vil­lage, in what looked like a seized en­gine that was the cause of the crash, but thank­fully he walked away, and the re­sult was taken from the pre­vi­ous lap, leav­ing Gary Dun­lop in to take his first ever road race win.

It was an emo­tional win for Dun­lop, and while Moore fin-

It was this close in the cham­pi­onship 600 race as Micko Sweeney leads Derek Sheils and Paul Jor­dan

A de­lighted Micko Sweeney in­di­cates his double win at the East Coast Rac­ing Fes­ti­val, and is con­grat­u­lated by his spon­sor Ea­mon Mul­li­gan as Paul Jor­dan looks on. Photo: Pat Nolan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.