FIERCE AGAIN

Ir­ish Scene: The fi­nal three rounds.

Classic Racer - - CLASSIC RACER IRISH CLASSIC ROAD RACING - Words: Mark Mc­closkey. Pho­tos: Mark Mc­closkey, Big Joe, Jack Corry and John Burke.

The Ir­ish road rac­ing cham­pi­onship en­joyed its fi­nal three thrilling rounds, the first be­ing the Faugh­een 50 which is just out­side Car­rick-on-suir in County Water­ford. This is a par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful part of the coun­try with a panorama of rolling hills and rich, green forestry as far as the eye can see and is al­most in stark con­trast to the fe­ro­cious, high- speed rac­ing that has been syn­ony­mous with Faugh­een for the best part of 60 years. Many spec­ta­tors were still talk­ing of the epic bat­tle be­tween Richard Ford and Robert Mccrum which took place the pre­vi­ous week­end at Walder­stown but, if they were hop­ing for a rerun at Faugh­een their ex­pec­ta­tions were pre­ma­turely dashed when Mccrum slid off in free prac­tice, break­ing his

col­lar­bone in the process and leav­ing Richard Ford in the right place to take an easy win, lap­ping at over 87mph, with Trevor Ru­fus a dis­tant se­cond. The 500cc race how­ever, pro­vided the crowds with the op­por­tu­nity to once again see See­ley G50 mounted Ed Manly mix it with cham­pi­onship leader Barry David­son who was rid­ing Gary Hut­ton’s Honda CB500. When the flag went up, the two rid­ers ig­nited and fought wheel to wheel for the en­tire race with David­son just about man­ag­ing to cross the line less than a tenth of a se­cond ahead of Manly. Mon­aghan rider Fred­die Ste­wart took third with Billy Lyle al­most touch­ing his back wheel. In the 350cc, all eyes were once again on Manly and David­son and it had all the hall­marks of a rerun of the 500cc race un­til lap two when David­son’s ig­ni­tion let him down, leav­ing Manly to dis­ap­pear into the dis­tance tak­ing the flag a full 35 sec­onds ahead of Sean Leonard with Her­bie Ro­nan tak­ing third. Richard Ford was back out in the 250cc race and wasted no time in stamp­ing his au­thor­ity on pro­ceed­ings, record­ing a fine win ahead of the hard-chas­ing Brian Ma­teer with reign­ing cham­pion Phillip Shaw tak­ing third. Armoy, less than a week later, took us from the very south of Ire­land right up to the very tip of the north. Billed as ‘The Race of Cham­pi­ons’, it cer­tainly lived up to its il­lus­tri­ous name with last year’s win­ner, 350 Dem­ster Honda mounted Barry David­son tak­ing pole on Fri­day evening, just ahead of close ri­val Ed Manly on a G50. Third spot on the grid was Manx Nor­ton mounted new­comer Wat­tie Brown who re­spect­fully sported the race num­ber 10, last used here by his friend and com­pa­triot the late De­nis Gal­lagher. With 28 ma­chines on the grid, the stage was set for a thriller. First away, David­son, man­aged a small lead briefly but was soon passed by Manly and shortly af­ter that by Brown, the trio keep­ing in close con­tact as they put dis­tance be­tween them­selves and

ARMOY CER­TAINLY LIVED UP TO ITS IL­LUS­TRI­OUS NAME AS THE RACE OF CHAM­PI­ONS.

the rest of the pack. Then on lap four the red flags came out when Bill Smith’s Du­cati slid off at Church Bends, re­sult­ing in the race be­ing rerun over four laps. This time Manly wasted no time in get­ting his head down and show­ing the rest of the field a clean pair of heels as he scorched across the line a full 14 sec­onds ahead of Wat­tie Brown, with David­son a fur­ther five sec­onds back. In terms of classes, third place in the 500cc went to Fred­die Ste­wart be­hind Brown and Manly. David­son’s third place se­cured him the 350cc with Sean Leonard, Ian Thomp­son, Brian Allen and Linton Ir­win all in close con­tention. The 250cc class was a hard­fought bat­tle with vic­tory go­ing to Richard Ford, closely fol­lowed by Brian Ma­teer and Phillip Shaw. The fi­nal round of the Ir­ish sea­son took place at Killilane in north Co Dublin in what has been re­named as the East Coast Races. Satur­day’s prac­tices were run in atro­cious con­di­tions and as such were un­timed with grid po­si­tions ‘as per cham­pi­onship stand­ings’. If the mon­soonal rains weren’t bad enough, Brian Ma­teer broke a ring in prac­tice, do­ing a lot of dam­age in­side his lit­tle 250 Suzuki, and spent most of Satur­day night hon­ing it out and fit­ting an old pis­ton with a se­cond-hand ring and hop­ing for the best in Sun­day’s race. The poor ma­chine had prac­ti­cally no com­pres­sion on the right-hand cylin­der but, thank­fully kept go­ing at a slow, steady pace. Then on lap three Philip Shaw had to re­tire with a bro­ken ring of his own, hand­ing se­cond place to Ma­teer a full 44 sec­onds adrift of a very in-form Richard Ford who was first in the 250cc and who was se­cond over­all against the might of so many 350cc Hon­das. Richard also man­aged to set the fastest lap of the race at 83.791mph, Honda mounted Gary Hut­ton took third spot ahead of Alex Mcvicker. Barry David­son’s su­perb win at Killilane was not enough to se­cure him his fifth 350cc cham­pi­onship in a row. This year the crown goes to lo­cal rider Sean Leonard who crossed the line just ahead of a hard-charg­ing trio of K4 Hon­das in the form of Fred­die Ste­wart, Her­bie Ro­nan and Sam Kinkead. Wex­ford rider Gearoid Hoare was mix­ing it with these four rid­ers un­til lap four when he missed a gear while brak­ing for Kear­ney’s Tree (yes, a fully grown tree in the mid­dle of the road, where else would you find some­thing like that?) and had to aban­don his line and go

around the tree the long way, clip­ping a mar­shal in the process and re­join­ing the race in eleventh and even­tu­ally fin­ish­ing in ninth. As a re­sult of rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions, the se­nior clas­sic race had to be can­celled which gives Barry David­son the 500cc cham­pi­onship, with Fred­die Ste­wart and Ed Manly run­ners-up. Robert Mccrum won the 1000cc class from Richard Ford and Trevor Ru­fus. This year the 250cc ti­tle, which had rested with Phillip Shaw for the past seven years, goes to Richard Ford with Brian Ma­teer se­cond and Philip Shaw third, and the 350cc ti­tle was won by Sean Leonard from Barry David­son and Ian Thomp­son. No doubt we will have loads to look for­ward to in 2018, in the mean­time a big thank you to the or­gan­is­ers, mar­shals, spon­sors and sup­port­ers, with­out whose help all this would be very dif­fi­cult.

250cc Suzuki mounted Richard Ford set the fastest lap of the race on his way to se­cond place at Killilane. Brian Ma­teer passes Kear­ney’s Tree on the Killilane cir­cuit.

Brian Ma­teer had to en­dure mon­soon­like con­di­tions in prac­tice for Killilane. Barry David­son took a su­perb win at Killilane.

Se­cond place at Killilane wase­nough to se­cure­sean Leonardthe 350cc cham­pi­onship for2017.

Fred­die Ste­wart leads Sean Leonard and Her­bie Ro­nan through Killilane Vil­lage.

Ed Manly took the­flag 35 sec­onds ahead of the rest at Faugh­een. John­ny­do­ran holds anar­rowleada­head of Her­bie Ro­nan at Faugh­een.

Trevor Ste­wart, Robert Wright and Paul Mcma­hon at Faugh­een.

Above: Richard Ford leads Sean Leonard, Brian Ma­teer, Johnny Do­ran and Her­bie Ro­nan at Faugh­een 50.

Be­low: Gearoid Hoare tries to get past Ian Thomp­son.

Be­low in­set: Phillip Shaw whips his Suzuki past Kevin Cal­lan at Faugh­een.

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