English Extends Masters Superbike Championship lead …
…while Johnston takes maiden Supersport win
Robert English extended his Masters Superbike Championship lead at Mondello Park as two rounds of Ireland’s premier short circuit Motorcycle Racing series were completed over the weekend of May 7th & 8th
With Saturday’s racing abandoned due to track conditions, the scheduled three championship rounds were reduced to two and it was English who dominated. The County Down rider took his IFS Yamaha to a pair of victories over a resurgent Brian McCormack who had his best weekend of the year so far with his TAG Honda to move up to third in the standings.
English led race one from the start and initially had McCormack and Nikki Coates right on his tail. As the race wore on McCormack and Coates faded leaving the series leader to take his third victory of the season, with an eleven second margin. Charles Stuart from Ballycastle was once again the ‘Cup’ winner with a seven second margin over Barry Sheehan, while Shane O’Grady picked up his first Masters podium with third.
The second race followed a similar pattern but this time McCormack held on to English for longer and looked like he might mount a challenge until around half distance. Eventually English started to open the gap and when he did McCormack backed off to finish in a comfortable second place. The Kingsbury Kawasaki of Coates was once again behind McCormack on the road, but a jump start penalty dropped him back to fourth behind Mark Glasgow who picked up his first podium of the season on his brand new Kawasaki. Stuart once again won the Cup but this time he was pushed much harder with Sheehan just over two seconds down in second while O’Grady once again filled the last podium place.
There was great celebration on the podium after Supersport race two as Ballymena’s Luke Johnston finally took his maiden Masters win. Johnston had to come from behind to beat Richie Ryan who had lead initially before being overtaken by Nikki Coates. On lap three both Ryan and Johnston were closing on Coates when the Kawasaki rider fell off leaving a two way battle for the lead. Three laps later Johnston pulled off a fantastic out-braking manoeuvre into the final corner and then steadily built his lead to come home two and a half seconds to the good.
Suzuki mounted Jason Lynn picked up another podium place with third ahead of Duleek’s Aaron Clifford who not only won the Supersport Cup and took his highest ever finish overall but also collected the Aidan Lynam award presented in memory of the former Masters commentator and motorcycling journalist who lost his life in 2014. Des Mackessy followed Clifford home in second with Oisin Watson taking his second ever Masters podium in third.
In the first Supersport race an impressive fight back from a poor start had seen Ryan move past Johnston and almost catch Coates, but Coates held on for his second win of the year. Johnston’s third place along with his race two win allowed him to move one point closer to Ryan at the head of the points standings after the weekends racing. Aaron Clifford was the race one Cup winner from Des Mackessy and Darragh Trappe.
Two comfortable wins in the Principal Insurance Pre-Injection class saw Kevin Dempsey leap frog Stephen Doyle and Paul McCrea to lead the championship standings. Round one and two winner Doyle dented his championship hopes with his second non-finish in three races and only moved up to second place in the standings as former series leader Paul McCrea did not complete either race. In race one Doyle and Joe Grant followed Dempsey home while in race two it was James McKenna and Darryl Sharkey who joined him on the podium.
The Masters next outing will be back at Mondello Park, this time on the shorter National Circuit, on July 16th and 17th with rounds 8, 9 and 10.