Jonathan Rea named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year

World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea was last night named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year. He was presented with the Joey Dunlop Trophy for the third time at the annual Cornmarket Enkalon Motorbike Awards, having previously taken the honours at the 2007 and 2008 events.

The annual award ceremony took place at the Ramada Plaza in Belfast and brought together many high profile names in the world of motorcycle racing.

While Rea took the main award other Northern Irish riders were also successful. William Dunlop – who was unbeaten in the Supersport class in last year’s National road races – was named National Road Racer of the Year while Lee Johnston picked up an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work with F13k Cancer. British Superstock champion Josh Ellott was named Best Rider on UK and Irish Circuits with Andy Reid collecting the award for Race of the Year.

There were posthumous awards for Owen McNally – who was inducted into the Hall of Fame – and Dr John Hinds. Injured rider Jamie Hamilton presented an award to Dr Janet Acheson for the late Dr Hinds for his services to motorbike racing. Kevin Keyes was named Young Rider of the Year.

Elsewhere Sidecarcross duo Neil Campbell and Ross Graham received the UK Off Road Award while Motocross team Hitachi KTM UK won Team of the Year. Ian Hutchinson was awarded Internatonal Road Racer of the Year following his return to form this season, including three wins at the Isle of Man TT.

Peter Hickman wins Macau Motorcycle GP

Peter Hickman has won the Macau Grand Prix on only his second visit to the circuit.

He had a disappointing visit in 2014 when an accident in the first qualifying session meant he was not able to take part in the remainder of the event. His bike was too badly damaged and despite the team and rider’s best efforts, it could not be repaired in time.

Last year’s third place finisher Martin Jessopp qualified on pole position for the 49th edition of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.  He was joined on the all BMW front row by eight time winner Michael Rutter and Hickman.

Rutter made the best start, taking the early lead before losing out to Jessopp and Hickman before the end of the first lap. Behind the leading trio Ian Hutchinson crossed the line fourth at the end of the first lap, followed by Gary Johnson, John McGuinness, Conor Cummins, Stuart Easton and Horst Saiger.

Jessopp started to build up a comfortable lead ahead of Hickman as the race progressed. Fighting for the third place spot was close with a train of riders in close succession. By the fifth lap Hickman had closed the gap to just over a second and a half.

Davy Morgan, who had made a good start to the race progressing through the field, retired on the fifth lap after sliding off his bike at the slow speed Melco Hairpin. Easton was another retirement as he pulled into the pits.

Hickman took the lead on lap nine and never looked back. Behind the leading duo the group for third were still close. Johnson and Rutter both passed Hutchinson at the same time, but the latter soon took the podium spot back. With two laps remaining it was still all to play for. McGuinness picked up the pace on the last couple of laps and stole fourth from Johnson with a move around the outside on the final lap.

The advantage for the race winner as he crossed the line was just over six seconds as Jessopp secured second. Rutter took third ahead of McGuinness, Johnson, Hutchinson, Cummins, Saiger, Lee Johnston, and David Johnson.

Outside the top ten Dan Cooper came home in 11th ahead of Jimmy Storrar and Mark Miller. Steve Heneghan was 14th with AJ Venter 15th, Brian McCormack 16th, Sam West 17th and Ivan Lintin 18th. Rounding out the top twenty were Ben Wylie and Andre Pires.

Mar-Train Racing confirm Dean Harrison split

The Mar-Train Racing team has confirmed that they will part company with Dean Harrison ahead of the 2016 season.

A statement posted on the team’s website revealed that team boss Tim Martin had agreed to release Harrison from his contract early, to allow the rider to “take up an alternative offer”. Harrison has been one of the stars on the roads in recent years with wins at the Isle of Man TT, Southern 100, and Cock O’the North to his name, along with many other impressive results.

At the end of last year he parted company with RC Express – a team with which he had had an association with since 2012 – to join Mar-Train full time. The team became the official Yamaha UK road racing team for 2015 and endured a tricky year as they developed the new YZF-R1M. Team boss Tim Martin credited Harrison with the work he has carried out in developing the bike over the course of the 2015 season. “Dean has been instrumental in getting the new R1M to where it is now,” he explained. “[He] has been a pleasure to work with over the past two years. He is a talented young rider and needs to follow his own aspirations, I wish him all the best and would have no hesitation in working with him again in the future.”

The team hope to confirm their plans for next year in the coming week. “Our commitment to Yamaha UK and the YZF-R1M project remains intact,” he concluded. “We made a lot of progress throughout 2015 and are looking forward to reaping the benefits with a successful 2016.”

Ian Hutchinson joins forces with Tyco BMW for 2016 International road racing season

Ian Hutchinson will join Tyco BMW for the 2016 road racing season it has been announced.

The 11 time TT winner – who took three victories at this year’s event – revealed that he had been in talks with the team for a “couple of months”.

“I’ve always been serious about coming to the Tyco BMW team for next year,” he revealed. “I’m really looking forward to getting going now with them in 2016.” Hutchinson made a remarkable recovery following a serious accident in 2010 and has fought his way back to the front of the field. “After pretty much four years away from the sport I now need a bit of consistency. BMW is a huge brand and along with Philip Neill at TAS, they have shown how much they want to be involved with me for next season. That enthusiasm sold it to me and with direct support from BMW Motorrad it was hard to turn them down”.

Team Manager Philip Neill expressed his delight at signing Hutchy. “To sign him up for 2016 is hopefully a big enough statement from BMW Motorrad, TAS Racing and our leading team partners Tyco Security Products, as to our aspirations for next season. We’ve talked about working together previously and it didn’t quite come to fruition, but I think we have joined forces at the best possible time. I believe Ian can add to his International Road Racing success next season on BMW Motorrad machinery with the support of TAS Racing.”

The TAS racing team recently amicably split with rider William Dunlop while Guy Martin’s 2016 plans are still unclear. Prior to the Hutchinson news they confirmed an extension of their key partnerships for next year – including a two year extension to their deal with BMW. Tyco Security Products will also be remaining with the team for a fifth consecutive year.

“Being chosen to represent BMW Motorrad in British championship and on the International Road Racing scene in 2015 was an enjoyable task,” Philip Neill said. “I think our achievements in year one have built a solid foundation and platform for the future, so we are delighted to have our contract as the official team extended into 2016 and 2017.”

Harrison and Dunlop amongst Classic TT winners

Dean Harrison and Michael Dunlop were amongst the winners at this year’s Classic TT.

The event – which took place during the last week in August ahead – featured a strong line-up of riders including the likes of John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, Conor Cummins, Lee Johnston, and William Dunlop. Practice and qualifying sessions were interrupted by difficult weather conditions and red flags throughout the week. Racing took place on Saturday and Monday.

Harrison took the win in the opening race of the meeting riding an MV Agusta in the 500cc class. He was 26 seconds clear of Ian Lougher who picked up a 30 second penalty for an infringement in the pit-lane. Johnston was third ahead of Jamie Coward, Chris Swallow, Keith Amor, David Madsen-Mygdal, Ivan Lintin, Wattie Brown, and Philip McGurk. High profile retirements from the race included the fastest qualifier McGuinness along with team-mate Ryan Farquhar. Michael Dunlop also retired after running in the top five.

It was Rutter who stood on the top step of the podium for the 350cc race, following a lengthy delay and shortened race distance. Communication issues resulted in the race start being delayed and as a result the race was reduced to three laps. Dan Cooper was comfortably leading going into the final lap but he retired meaning Rutter was promoted to first. He was over two minutes clear of second placed rider McGurk with Doug Snow in third. There were a number of retirements including William Dunlop, Johnston, Amor and Swallow. 500cc winner Harrison withdrew before the start of the race. Madsen-Mygdal and James Hillier were fourth and fifth ahead of Mark Herbertson, Stephen Harper, Ewan Hamilton, Dave Matravers, and Alec Whitwell.

The third and final race of the meeting was the Formula 1 and Formula 2 race. The Formula 1 race was hotly contested with Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop going head-to-head. Anstey was black flagged due to a loose exhaust resulting in him losing a lot of time in the pit-lane as the Padgetts team worked to fix the issue. He eventually fought back to finish in second place just two seconds clear of Farquhar, with Dunlop winning the race. Hillier finished fourth with David Johnson fifth and Coward sixth. Johnston, Gary Johnson, Dan Kneen and Rutter completed the top ten. William Dunlop, Harrison, and Peter Hickman retired from the race. In the Formula 2 class it was Ryan Kneen who comfortably won beating James Cowton and Charles Rhys Hardistry. Chris Moore, David Hewson, Shaun Anderson, Tom Snow, Steven Howard, Nick Anderson and Adrian Morris were the top ten finishers.

Derek Sheils doubles up at Faugheen 50 road races

Derek Sheils took two wins at the weekend at the Faugheen 50 road races in Co. Tipperary.

Following a narrow victory for Brian McCormack in the Open Non Championship race, Sheils took the win in both the Open Championship race and the Grand Final. McCormack beat Derek McGee by just a hundredth of a second in the non championship race with William Dunlop taking third, just eight tenths back. Dunlop broke the lap record on the way to his podium. John Walsh and Seamus Elliott completed the top five.

Sheils won the Open Champonship race by two tenths from McGee with Dunlop once again completing the podium. It was McGee who won the Supertwins race, taking a commanding eight second victory over Paul Jordan with Michal Dokoupil in third. This was following his first International victory in the same class at the Ulster Grand Prix. John Horgan finished in fourth with Mark Sheils coming home in fifth. In the Supersport class it was another victory for Dunlop on his CD Racing Yamaha, meaning his maintained his 100% record in the class at Irish Nationals this year. He beat McGee by three seconds with Walsh in third, McCormack fourth and Thomas Maxwell in fifth.

Jordan beat Nigel Moore and Paul Robinson to victory in the 125cc – Moto 3 race while Brian Coomey won both 201cc – 400cc races. In both races he was joined on the podium by John Horgan and Brendan Glover. The Senior Support Non Championship race was won by Dean Campbell, who beat Steve Tobin and Daryl Tweed while Tobin beat Tweed and Stephen Casey in the Championship race. Neil Kernohan, Elliott, and Dokoupil filled the podium positions in Junior Support.

In the Classics it was another victory for Robert McCrum in the 250 – 350cc class, beating Ed Manly by over 24 seconds with Sean Leonard in third. He also won the 500 – 1000cc Classic race by a narrower margin of 16 seconds over Richard Ford with Manly in third.

In the Grand Final Sheils crossed the line marginally ahead of McGee with McCormack coming home third after holding off Dunlop who finished fourth. Walsh rounded out the top five finishers.

Next up on the road racing calendar are the Classic TT and Manx GP which is due to start later this week. The final Irish National road race of the year is Killalane which takes place on the first weekend in September.

Lee Johnston the new ‘General’ of Dundrod

Lee Johnston was the Man of the Meeting at last weekend’s Ulster Grand Prix after winning three races.

Johnston – who is known as General Lee – took victories in the Superstock class as well as both Supersport races, his first wins at the Ulster Grand Prix.

Bruce Anstey had taken the win in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race after battling with Guy Martin, who crashed out and was forced to withdraw from the remainder of the event. The fan favourite sustained a number of fractures including to his hand and several vertebrae.

First up on the order on Saturday – which started off a clear and dry day – was the Superstock race. Keith Amor was promoted to pole position but lost out at the start. It was Johnston who went on to win but not without a close battle with Peter Hickman who had taken the early lead. The race ran to the line and the pair were separated by just 0.090s with Michael Dunlop finishing in third place. He finished ten seconds clear of brother William with Amor rounding out the top five.

Next up was the Supersport race and it was another close fought affair. William Dunlop lead for most of the race but was pipped to the line by on form man Johnston. Their gap was just three hundredths of a second with Glenn Irwin in third on his second visit to the Dundrod circuit.  Anstey narrowly missed out on a podium while Ian Hutchinson finished in fifth place after a disappointing retirement in the opening race of the day. Following the Supersport machines it was time for the combined Ultra Lightweight and Lightweight classes. Sam Wilson was the victor in the Lightweight class finishing ahead of Neil Kernohan and James Cowton. Paul Owen was fourth with Michal Dokoupil in fifth place. Christian Elkin was the clear winner in the Ultra Lightweight class. The Moto 3 rider had had an accident on Thursday during a Supertwin practice session but was soon back in action. He was nearly half a minute clear of Connor Behan who finished second, with Nigel Moore in third.

There was controversy in the first Superbike race as it was red flagged on the sixth lap. Due to the rules, which specify that if a race is red flagged then it will be counted back to the last fully completed lap, Anstey was declared the winner despite Hutchinson leading on the road. He later revealed that he had been racing a strategic race – making sure he was leading at two thirds race distance should the race be red flagged. The PBM team planned to appeal the result but it stood with Anstey as the winner with Hutchinson second and Johnston third. Hickman, Conor Cummins and William Dunlop completed the top six.

The second Supersport race was also red flagged due to a fatal accident involving Scottish rider Andy Lawson. Johnston took the victory with Irwin second and Hutchinson third. Dean Harrison took fourth place with William Dunlop fifth and Anstey sixth. Following a lengthy delay as the race directors consulted with Andy Lawson’s family – who wished for the event to continue – the Supertwin class got out on track, albeit in tricky conditions as the rain had set in. Derek McGee held off Cowton throughout the four lap race with Dan Cooper taking his first International podium in third. He and Irwin had circulated closely on track but it was Cooper who was ahead when it counted – as they crossed the line.

It was a depleted grid for the seventh and final race of the day – the second Superbike race. It was another close fought affair as Cummins worked his way through the top five to finish just two hundredths of a second off Hickman. It was Hickman’s first International victory. Michael Dunlop finished off a fairly anonymous day with a third place finish. Amor took fourth ahead of Russ Mountford and Dan Kneen.

Man of the Meeting Johnston was just one of the riders who chose to sit the race out – the list also included Anstey. Horst Saiger was awarded the Best Newcomer award. Next up on the road racing calendar is Faugheen this weekend.