English & Johnston – Master Superbike & Supersport Champions
The Masters Superbike and Supersport championship battles both went down to the final day of the season at Mondello Park yesterday (Sunday October 2nd). Robert English and Luke Johnston were crowned champions in an exciting climax to the season which will be broadcast in two weeks time by Channel 4, thanks to the support of BMW Motorrad.
English, the 2015 Supersport champion, arrived at the County Kildare track needing only to finish consistently to wrap up the Superbike title. His main rival, Nikki Coates, needed to win all three races and hope that English had at least one bad result to have any hope of overhauling him.
The top two would have been left to battle it out had it not been for the appearance of Derek Sheils who made his first appearance of the year. Sheils took up where he had left off at the end of his title winning season in 2015 by coming from behind to win Saturday’s race. Coates finished second with English settling for third to edge closer to the title heading into Sunday’s double header.
Sunday’s first race saw Sheils continue his domination to pick up another comfortable win. In the championship battle English did all he had to do by following Coates home in third place to wrap the title up with a race to spare. Behind them the battle for third in the standings was played out between Mark Glasgow and Charles Stuart as Glasgow did the necessary and finished two places ahead of his rival.
The final race of the weekend was a cracking one, apart from the lead position which once again belonged to Derek Sheils. Behind him Coates and English tussled over second place until the resurgent Cody Nally broke away from a pack of riders battling for fourth to overhaul English and take his first podium since round ten in July. English did not fight too hard with Nally however as he got himself safely to the finish to complete his season as Superbike champion. The battle for fifth in the race went to Mark Glasgow which secured his excellent third place in the standings ahead of Superbike ‘Cup’ champion Charles Stuart.
Luke Johnston and Richie Ryan entered the final weekend of the season as the likely contenders for the Supersport crown and the title chase went down to the last race of the year. Ryan started the weekend by finishing ahead of Johnston in second place to edge closer to his rival. Jason Lynn took the win as he kept his slim hopes of the title alive.
Ryan needed to beat Johnston again in Sunday’s first race and started well before a temporary electrical problem caused him to drop down the field and out of the top ten. A magnificent fightback by Ryan did not yield the result he needed as he finished three places behind Johnston who now had one hand on the trophy. Robert Kennedy won the race from Nikki Coates with third placed Lynn moving within six points of Ryan’s second in the standings.
The final race started with Johnston needing to finish seventh or better to be sure of the title, even if Ryan took the win. Staying out of trouble he dropped from second on the opening lap to sixth place, just off the back of the leading bunch. Meanwhile Ryan had progressed up to third but with Robert Kennedy well clear in the lead Johnston needed only to sit where he was to add the Supersport Crown to the ‘Cup’ title he won in 2012.
As the race progressed Johnston was touring, secure in his sixth place, but this rapidly turned into fourth in the final laps as Coates and Ryan both dropped out. Johnston result gave him the Supersport title but Ryan’s miserable finish to the year was compounded by Jason Lynn’s second place allowing him to move past Ryan to the championship runner up spot. Dean McMaster took third place to climb onto the podium for just the second time in 2016. With the class already secured Aaron Clifford took his fourteenth consecutive ‘Cup’ win to maintain his 100% record.
James McKenna had to wait until the final race of the season to secure his first Principal Insurance Pre-Injection title. The class started the final event with the most open championship battle as six riders had a mathematical chance of victory. At the start of the weekend McKenna led the championship from Kevin Dempsey with Stephen Doyle third, but despite the best efforts of the second and third placed riders it was McKenna who prevailed. Three second places behind class returnee Andrew Brady were enough to extend his lead while two third places were enough for Dempsey to retain the runner-up spot. In the final race of the weekend it was Brady from McKenna and Lee Bradshaw as these three picked up the bonus cash awards courtesy of Principal Insurance, with McKenna also taking the prize for fastest lap of the weekend.