The 2017 Irish road racing season commenced this weekend in Tandragee.
Derek Sheils and Derek McGee were among the race winners, winning in the Open and Supersport races respectively.
Sheils won the opening race of the meeting – the Open Superbike non-championship race – from pole position on the Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki. He finished comfortably ahead of William Dunlop with McGee in third. Dunlop was racing Mar-train’s Yamaha R1 following a last minute deal with Tim Martin for the Ballymoney man. Michael Sweeney was fourth, 14 seconds further back on McGee who was 23 seconds behind the race winner. Alan Bonner, Davy Morgan, Shaun Anderson, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Andy Farrell filled positions five to nine while Richard McLoughlin was tenth. Guy Martin’s hotly anticipated return didn’t last long as he tangled with Paul Jordan early in the first lap having started 17th leading to both retiring, thankfully uninjured.
Up next was the Junior Support race which was won by Joseph Loughlin who broke the lap record on his way to a nine second victory. He beat Michael Browne and Jamie Williams with Oisin Watson fourth. Stephen Morrison finished in fifth ahead of Andy McAllister, Tony Leach, RJ Woolsey, Brian Loughlin and Vic Allan.
McGee followed up his podium in the Open race by comfortably winning the Supersport race. He finished over 16 seconds clear of Dunlop with Sheils narrowly finishing third. He beat Jordan by mere tenths of a second. Graham Kennedy was fourth ahead of Paul Williams and Michael Weldon in fifth and sixth respectively, with the latter two having started from the second group. Sean Connolly who also came from the second group, Darryl Tweed and Paul Cranston rounded out the top ten. The rain came on before the Supersport race with riders being allowed to change tyres as conditions changed.
In the Classic race it was Barry Davidson who was victorious, although he beat Jamie O’Brien by just six tenths of a second. Nigel Moore was third ahead of Robert McCrum, Gary Jamison, Keith Clarke and Philip Shaw. Also in the top ten were Brian Mateer, Freddie Stewart, and Sean Leonard.
Adam McLean, Sam Wilson and Moore were the three podium finishers in the Moto 3/125cc class. Dean Stimpson and Neil Kernohan were fourth and fifth. In the Forgotten Era class the top three were Des Butler, O’Brien and Richard Ford with Tweed notching up a victory in the Lightweight Supersports. Seamus Elliott and Paul Gartland joined him on the podium.
The sixth race of the meeting turned out to be the last when the Senior Support class was red flagged. Loughlin was the winner ahead of Jamie Williams and Jonathan Gormley. A rider involved in the red flag incident is currently in hospital. Due to deteriorating weather conditions the Supertwins and feature Superbike race were cancelled.
Racing continues on the Irish roads next weekend at the Cookstown 100.