A year between the hedges – Aidan Lynam on the Irish Road Racing season

Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.Contributed by Aidan Lynam with photos by Derek Clegg, A year between the hedges is another in our series of occasional features by contributors from the wider motorcycling community.

Aidan is a freelance race journo/road tester, supplying copy to both Road Racing Ireland and Bike Buyers Guide magazines. You can follow him on Twitter at @Aidan34.

Derek is photographer based in Belfast, Co. Antrim. You can follow his blog and see examples of his work at: http://www.derekclegg.net/

A year between the hedges

2014 Irish National Road Racing Season.

With road racing stalwarts Ryan Farquhar, Adrian Archibald and John Burrows hanging up their leathers at the end of the 2013 season there were quite a lot of fans wondering was this another nail in the coffin of a sport that so many fans around the world love dearly. These fears were not allayed when both Michael and William Dunlop said that they would have to limit their national appearances due to team commitments, Michael with the Honda TT Legends outfit and William with Milwaukee Yamaha. Thankfully for the home-based fans, both of the Dunlop brothers subsequently competed at most national rounds.

Derek Sheils, Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Derek Sheils (CD Racing)
2013 Adelaide Masters Superbike Champion

In a season preview I wrote for Bike Buyers Guide last winter, I said that whilst Farquhar et-al would undoubtedly be missed, how could a sport not miss it’s most successful riders, it might give the ‘lesser lights’ a chance to grab some much needed limelight. I also said that sometimes Farquhar or the Dunlop’s had inadvertently almost ruined the spectacle by clearing off at the front, a testament to their undoubted talents. However fans like to see close racing and very often this was going on further back in the pack, often unnoticed by many. I felt then that the likes of Derek Sheils, Jamie Hamilton, Derek McGee and Michael Sweeney could well be the men to watch in 2013 but with all of these having had some success in 2012 I wasn’t exactly backing outsiders!

Hamilton was all set for another season in Farquhar’s KMR squad whilst Sheils would line up with the Chris Dowd (CD) Racing Team. McGee from Mullingar spent the winter/spring working in Australia in order to purchase Adrian Archibald’s Kawasaki ZX10 for the Open Class races where previously he had competed at a distinct disadvantage on Supersport machinery.

As it turned out, Michael Dunlop raced at most events on his own bikes with private backers and older brother William did likewise on a mixture of Milwaukee Yamaha’s and a very trick Supersport machine built for CD/Ivan Curran (IC) Racing.

Cookstown 100

The opening race of the year was the Cookstown 100 which took place at the end of April. Practice and qualifying were due to take place on Friday but rain and an oil spill put a stop to that, however race day dawned to beautiful sunshine over the Orritor Road circuit.

TYCO Suzuki’s Guy Martin added an extra competitive edge to the grid but it was the younger Dunlop sibling who took the spoils in both the Open race and the Grand Final with TV regular Martin taking the Supersport win. Dunlop beat Martin, Sheils, Michael Pearson and Dean Harrison in the Open race and the front four was unchanged for the Grand Final with Hamilton taking fifth. Martin just held on to take the Supersport win by 0.1 seconds after a great tussle with Michael. Harrison took third ahead of Sheils and Pearson.

Hamilton took the win in the Supertwins race by over seven seconds to Michael Sweeney, William Davison, Andy Farrell and Ian Morrell. The 250 and Moto 450 races were run concurrently and William Dunlop took the win from Sam Wilson and Davy Morgan in the two stroke category with Seamus Elliott, Anthony McColgan and Darren Gilpin filling the 450 podium. William took a second win in the 125 race beating Bruce moulds and William Cowden.

Englishman Alastair Haworth took the win in the Supersport 400 class , breaking the lap record in the process, ahead of Andy Farrell and Alastair Bayley, Colin Martin and Gavin Lupton.

James Kelly at the 2013 Armoy road races. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

James Kelly in action at Armoy

The Support classes always throw up good, close racing and Andy Lawson and James Kelly didn’t disgrace themselves in the Senior Support outing. Kelly led from the start but Lawson got past him on the last lap to beat him by just four tenths of a second. Mark Hanna took third ahead of James Neesom and William Monie. New KMR Kawasaki rider Conor Behan took the Junior Support win by 20 seconds over Lupton after Hanna’s bike expired in the latter stages whilst sitting in a very close second. Haworth took third ahead of Shane Egan and Tommy Henry.

Robert McCrum took the Senior Classic win from John Scott and Richard Ford whilst Allan Brew took the 500cc Classic win ahead of Freddie Stewart and Gary Jamison. The 350cc Classic race win went to Barry Davidson who beat McCrum and Sean Leonard with Phillip Shaw taking the 250cc win ahead of Peter Wakefield and Jeff Ward.

‘Around a Pound’ Tandragee 100:

The second round of the championship took place on the first weekend in May at Tandragee in County Armagh and once again young Michael Dunlop took the big bike honours.

Derek Sheils in action. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Derek Sheils in action

Michael Pearson took second in the Open race, albeit almost 27 seconds behind Dunlop with Shaun Anderson a further two seconds behind in third. Derek McGee took a good fourth place finish ahead of Sheils. Sheils went on to take second in the Grand Final but again Dunlop had cleared off, taking the flag by some 26 seconds. Pearson took third, just 0.3 behind the CD Racing man with Davy Morgan fourth ahead of Anderson.

Neither of the Dunlop brothers lined up for the Supersport race but it still proved to be an exciting encounter with Wayne Kirwan taking a popular win on the Crossan’s Yamaha. Pearson finished second just 0.003 behind the Drogheda rider with McGee, William Davison and Michael Sweeney filling the rest of the top five positions.

The Supertwins and 250’s shared the grid as only four 250’s were entered and William Dunlop took an easy win beating Michael Sweeney by 46 seconds with Brian Mateer third. Jamie Hamilton continued his winning ways on the KMR Supertwin beating William Davison by two seconds with Andy Farrell third ahead of Davy Morgan and Stephen McKnight.

Sam Wilson took the win in the 125 race by seven seconds from former North West 200 winner Paul Robinson, Nigel Moore, Sam Dunlop and Bruce Moulds. Gavin Lupton just about fended off the attentions of Andy Farrell in the Supersport 400 outing, taking the flag with just a tenth of a second to spare. Paul Maguire, Ben Cole and Wayne ‘Scoops’ Hall took third, fourth and fifth respectively. Only 3 Moto 450 machines graced the shared grid and Seamus Elliott beat Anthony McColgan and Dave Walsh.

Mullingar rider James Kelly took the win in the Senior Support class beating Gavin Lupton with nine seconds to spare.  RJ Woolsley took third ahead Tommy Henry and William Hara. Mark Hanna took his first win of the 2013 season in the Junior Support race ahead of Lupton, Connor Behan, Shane Egan and Adrian Logue.

Robert McCrum once again took the 1000cc Classic win from John Scott with Bob Price taking third. Allan Brew won the 500cc Classic race ahead of John Pemberton and Sam Kinkead whilst Barry Davidson also remained unbeaten, taking the 350cc win ahead of Sean Leonard and David Hastings. Philip Shaw beat the ‘singing racer’ RJ Woolsey and Bryan Allen in the 250cc race.

Great Stuff Caterers Glanmire Road Races:

Derek McGee Celebrates. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Derek McGee

The Cork road races once again moved home for 2013, this time to the outskirts of Glanmire Village which itself sits just outside Cork City, as the road racing circus paid its first visit of the season south of the border in mid-June.

The circuit itself received mixed reviews from some riders with Jamie Hamilton opting to head for home rather than race.

With no Michael Dunlop on the entry list Derek Sheils made the most of it in the Open race taking the win by almost 12 seconds ahead of Derek McGee in appalling weather conditions. McGee had led the opening laps but as the conditions worsened, Sheils used all his experience to pass the Mullingar man. Michael Sweeney crossed the finish line some 17 seconds behind McGee to take third after passing William Dunlop who was riding his Supersport machine on the last lap. Michael Pearson took fifth.

With rain falling heavier by the minute, and track conditions getting ever trickier, the Senior Support riders set off with ex-wheelie land speed record holder Shane Egan leading ahead of James Kelly. On lap four Adrian Logue crashed out causing the red flags to be waved and a result was called. Egan got the win ahead of Kelly, Mark Hanna, Connor Behan and Thomas Maxwell.

With riders complaining of a lack of grip and no let-up in the weather, the organisers abandoned the remaining races on safety grounds.

AON Insure Skerries 100 Road Races:

Beautiful sunshine returned once more to North County Dublin in time for the Skerries 100 road races in July and so did the Dunlop brothers who took four wins between them.

Michael once more took a brace of wins on his Honda Superbike but Derek Sheils kept him honest in both encounters. Sheils led the first lap of the Open race but Dunlop found a way past and held on to take the win by just three seconds with Michael Pearson, Davy Morgan and Jamie Hamilton finishing out the top five positions. Sheils once again took an early lead in the Grand Final and held on for the first four laps before the Ballymoney youngster found a way past, going on to break the lap record on lap seven en-route to the chequered flag. Sheils took second, just two seconds behind with Morgan third ahead of William Dunlop and Hamilton.

Michael Dunlop. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Michael Dunlop leading the pack

Michael took an early lead in the Supersport race but big brother William had other ideas and took the lead on the third lap, just about holding off his sibling to take the win by four tenths of a second. Derek McGee took an excellent third place ahead of Pearson and local man Michael Sweeney.

Jamie Hamilton continued to dominate the Supertwin class taking the win ahead of local men Michael Sweeney and Andy Farrell with William Davison fourth and Ian Morrell fifth.

William Dunlop came from behind on his 250cc machine to take his second win of the day in the 250/400 race beating Davy Morgan by just eight tenths of a second with Michael Sweeney taking third on John Burrows’ machine. Andy Farrell delighted his home fans by taking the Supersport 400 win ahead of Gavin Lupton and David Howard.

Seamus Elliott took the 125 race win by 20 seconds ahead of Bruce Moulds and Nigel Moore. William Dunlop retired early in proceedings with technical problems after leading the opening lap.

Limerick based Corkman Shane Egan took the win in the Senior Support race ahead of KMR rider Connor Behan with only a tenth of a second separating the duo. James Kelly took the final podium spot ahead of Gavin Lupton and Mark Hanna.

Hanna took the Junior Support race win, six seconds ahead of Behan with Egan third. Lupton once again took fourth with Melvin Hollingsworth taking fifth.

Robert McCrum took the 1000cc Classic win once again with John Scott second and Tom Kavanagh Third whilst Tony Willis beat Freddie Stewart and Gary Jamison in the 500cc class. Barry Davidson won the 350cc race yet again, beating Sean Leonard and Allan Brew. Philip Shaw won the 250cc race ahead of Bryan Allen and Alan ‘Bud’ Jackson.

Race of the South: Walderstown Road Races:

Only a week after the Skerries 100 races, both racers and fans alike headed for Walderstown in County Westmeath for the annual road races organised by the Fore club.

Michael Dunlop was scheduled to compete but withdrew on Saturday due to illness. However William Dunlop did race and he went on to take three wins, including two on his Milwaukee Yamaha Superbike.

William started from pole in the Open race and went on to take the win by just six tenths of a second over local man Derek McGee with Sheils just four tenths behind him in third. Jamie Hamilton took fourth ahead of Michael Sweeney. In his second outing on the big bike and after following Derek Sheils on the opening two laps, William made his move on lap three, going on to take the win by almost two seconds over Sheils with Michael Pearson third. Derek McGee took fourth ahead of Jamie Hamilton.

Understandably William started the Supersport race as favourite but it was the man from just down the road in Mullingar, Derek McGee, who delighted the partisan crowd by taking yet another win around his local circuit. Jamie Hamilton on the KMR Kawasaki ZX6 crossed the line in McGee’s slipstream with just a tenth of a second separating them. William took third after fighting his way back from sixth place at the end of the opening lap. Michael Sweeney and Michael Pearson finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Hamilton took a relatively easy win in the Supertwin’s race beating Sweeney by seven seconds with Mark Hanna taking third. Seamus Elliott took fourth ahead of William Davison after regular podium finisher Andy Farrell was forced to retire on lap two.

Shane Egan. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Shane Egan

William just held off Michael Sweeney to take the win in the 250 race by three tenths of a second with John Ella third ahead of Paul Robinson and Tommy Henry.

Shane Egan continued his winning ways by taking the win in the Senior Support race ahead of Mark Hanna and Gavin Lupton with Connor Behan fourth and James Kelly fifth.

Hanna had seven tenths of a second to spare over second placed man Behan in the Junior Support race with Lupton, Egan and Tommy Henry completing the top five.

With only two entries in the 1000cc Classic race, Robert McCrum took yet another win over rival John Scott. Allan Brew beat Gary Jamison and Freddie Stewart in the 500cc event whilst Phillip Shaw beat Bryan Allen and Alex McVicker in the 250 race. Barry Davidson took the honours in the 350 race ahead of Sean Leonard and Allan Brew.

The 125 race was won by Seamus Elliott ahead of Sam Wilson, Sean O’Neill, Sam Dunlop and Nigel Moore but events were overshadowed by a crash which saw Bruce Moulds from Hillsborough suffer injuries that he later tragically succumbed to in hospital.

Armoy Road Races: The Race of Legends

Good weather graced the iconic village of Armoy in County Antrim for the annual pilgrimage to what many road race fans see as the spiritual home of pure road racing, having spawned the legendary ‘Armoy Armada’.

William Dunlop. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

William Dunlop

Although ‘big name’ riders such as Guy Martin and Conor Cummins lined up on the grid it was the two Dunlop lads from just up the road in Ballymoney that took the bulk of the prize money with four wins between them.

Michael started from pole position in the Open class and he duly went on to take the win by five seconds over Guy Martin on the TYCO Suzuki. Martin led the opening five laps but Michael got past the Lincolnshire rider to take the lead. Derek Sheils took an excellent third place ahead William Dunlop and his Milwaukee Yamaha team mate Cummins.

Michael stamped his authority on the Grand Final, taking the lead from the start with Sheils sitting second before William relegated him to third and that’s how it stayed to the finish. Martin took fourth ahead of Jamie Hamilton.

Michael again started from pole in the Supersport race but it was his brother that took the chequered flag first, although only six tenths separated them. Martin and Hamilton had set the early pace but the two brothers soon got past them and cleared off to have their very own private battle for honours. Martin took third ahead of Hamilton with Michael Pearson taking fifth.

KMR Kawasaki's Jamie Hamilton.   Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

KMR Kawasaki’s Jamie Hamilton

Former Grand Prix and North West 200 winner Jeremy McWilliams had been enticed into competing in the Supertwin race on board a Ryan Farquhar built KMR Kawasaki and he and his team mate for the day, Jamie Hamilton, treated the crowds to a spectacular display of close racing. Hamilton took the win ahead of the veteran but only by 0.08 of a second after seven laps. William Davison, Gavin Lupton and Andy Farrell completed the top five.

William Dunlop took his second win in the 250 race beating Sam Wilson by over two seconds with Sweeney a further two tenths of a second behind in third. Seamus Elliott took fourth ahead of Daley Mathison.

Christian Elkin took the win in the 125 race ahead of Sam Dunlop and Sam Wilson. Daley Mathison came home fourth ahead of Paul Jordan.

Dublin’s Andy Farrell took the Supersport 400 honours with over two seconds to spare from title rival Gavin Lupton after leading from start to finish. Vic Allan took third, 37 seconds behind with Mark Shiels in fourth ahead of Derek Wilkie.

Conor Behan. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Conor Behan #72

Conor Behan took the win for KMR Kawasaki in the Senior Support race with just 0.04 to spare over Mark Hanna. Shane Egan took third place just five tenths behind Hanna having led most of the race but Behan and Hanna passed him on the final lap. Gavin Lupton took fourth ahead of Thomas Maxwell.

Hanna got his revenge on Behan in the Junior Support race beating his championship rival by a tenth of a second. Egan once again took third with Lupton and Tommy Henry fourth and fifth.

Robert McCrum won the 1000cc Classic race ahead of Richard Ford and John Scott whilst Allan Brew took the 500cc honours ahead of Richard Lambourne and Gary Jamison. Barry Davidson, Sean Leonard and Allan Brew completed the 350cc podium whilst Kevin Stowger, Phillip Shaw and Bryan Allen did likewise in the 250cc race.

Mid Antrim 150

The first weekend in August saw Clough Village host the Mid-Antrim 150 races and with no Michael or William Dunlop competing, Jamie Hamilton, Michael Sweeney and Derek Sheils took the spoils.

Sheils took the win in the Open race by almost nine seconds from Hamilton to wrap up his first senior road racing title with a round to spare after leading from flag to flag. Seamus Elliott took third ahead of Michael Sweeney and Davy Morgan.

Michael Sweeney. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Michael Sweeney

The Grand Final left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth for many when controversy reared its ugly head after Sheils and Hamilton had a coming together on the final lap as both riders went for the win. Claim and counter claim soon followed but the important thing was they both walked away from a 100mph+ crash relatively unscathed! As the red flags came out for this incident both riders were excluded from the result giving Sweeney the win by over nine seconds from Morgan, Elliott, William Davison and Sam Wilson.

KMR rider Hamilton had earlier won his first ever Supersport race on the roads beating Elliott by two seconds to move to the top of the championship leader board. Sam Wilson took third ahead of Sweeney and Sheils.

In the Supertwin race Hamilton continued his utter dominance of the class taking the win to remain unbeaten all year, securing the Irish title to boot. Elliott took a distant second place finish, some 23 seconds behind the KMR rider with Nigel Moore a further 21 seconds behind in third. Czech rider Michal ‘Indy’ Dokoupil took fourth ahead of Andy Farrell. In the concurrently run 250 race Michael Sweeney took the win on John Burrows’ BE Racing machine ahead of Davy Morgan, Sam Dunlop and Paul Robinson.

The 125, Supersport 400 and Moto 450 races were also run concurrently and Paul Robinson took the honours in the 125 race ahead of Sam Dunlop to keep the championship alive whilst Nigel Moore, Rene Lohse and Jack Sands filled the rest of the top five positions. Gavin Lupton won the 400 race by 45 seconds over Mark Shiels to move to the top of the championship with Wayne Hall taking third and his first ever podium finish. Derek Wilkie took fourth ahead of Derek Scuffil. Seamus Elliott beat Darren Gilpin with a full minute separating the front two in the 450 class, Dave Walsh took third.

Mark Hanna leads Conor Behan in the junior support race at the 2013 Killalane road races. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Mark Hanna leads Conor Behan

Mark Hanna beat Shane Egan by two seconds in the Senior Support race after Egan had led the opening four laps. Egan, Hanna, James Kelly and Gavin Lupton enjoyed a terrific battle throughout the race with Kelly taking third just two tenths behind Egan and another two tenths ahead of Lupton in fourth place. KMR rider Conor Behan took fifth.

Hanna took the Junior Support race win also, beating Behan by just one tenth of a second after the KMR rider had led the opening five laps. Lupton took third ahead of Neil Kernoghan and Egan.

Robert McCrum suffered a DNF in the Classic 1000cc race but having won every previous race in the class he had already been crowned champion. John Scott took the win as the only 1000cc rider. The 500cc Classic race was held concurrently and Martin Lyons beat Gary Jamison and Gary Hutton with championship leader Allen Brew taking fourth and the title. Barry Davidson remained unbeaten in the 350cc Classic championship all year and he took another win at the Clough circuit to wrap up the title also. Allen Brew took second ahead of Sean Leonard. Philip Shaw had already sewn up the 250cc Classic title but that didn’t stop him from taking another win, this time beating Bryan Allan and Gary Hutton.

Country Crest Killalane Road Races:

William Dunlop (CD Racing R6 Yamaha) at the 2013 Killalane road races. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

William Dunlop in action at Killalane

Mixed weather greeted the Killalane Road Races with fans going home with a mixture of sunburn and rust but it didn’t seem to perturb the Dunlop brothers who took five wins between them!

Younger of the two brothers, Michael took the win in the Open race after two red flags had caused stoppages. The first red flag was waved after an incident involving Jamie Hamilton and Derek Sheils with Hamilton hitting the back of the CD Racing ZX10R. Thankfully Sheils stayed on but the KMR rider wasn’t so lucky, being thrown into the air with his machine narrowly missing Michael Sweeney. Thankfully, although battered and bruised, Hamilton suffered no lasting injuries. Dunlop took the lead in the restarted race but the red flags were soon waving again as Alan Connor crashed out at Schoolhouse Corner. The result was taken from the first part of the race giving Dunlop the win over Sheils, Sweeney, William Dunlop and Connor.

Michael took another win in the Grand Final but it was Sheils that led off the line at the start of the race. Once in front Michael soon opened up a commanding lead which he held to the line. Sheils and Sweeney enjoyed a good tussle for second but it was the CD Racing man who took the second step on the podium ahead of the Skerries rider. Derek McGee took a good fourth place finish ahead of William Dunlop on the CD/IC Racing Yamaha 600 who had started from the second wave of riders.

William had earlier won the Supersport race from younger brother Michael by just eight tenths of a second, but only after a lengthy delay following monsoon like rainfall. When action did get underway it was frenetic to say the least with Hamilton and McGee only separated by eight points for the Irish title. William took an early lead ahead of McGee, with Michael, Wayne Kirwan, Sweeney and Hamilton hot on their heels as they crossed the line at the end of lap one. By lap four William had gapped McGee and Michael passed the Mullingar man on the same lap to move up to second. Michael visibly upped his pace to try and catch his older sibling but William just did enough to take the win by eights hundredths of a second. McGee took third ahead of Sweeney but with the visibly injured Hamilton taking fifth it was enough for the KMR rider to take his second Irish title of the 2013 season.

Having already been crowned champion, Hamilton wisely opted to sit out the Supertwin race allowing Skerries man Sweeney to take a solid win on his Kiely Heating machine. Fellow local man Andy Farrell had sat in second place for most of the race but Derek McGee on the Emerald Racing 650 took the place from him on corrected time having started from the second wave of riders. Michal Dokoupil took fourth ahead of Stephen McKnight.

Derek McGee leads Jamie Hamilton, Dean Harrison and Gary Johnson at Dundrod race circuit during the 2013 Ulster Grand Prix road races. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Derek McGee up front

William had earlier won the 250 race but he was made to earn it after Sweeney took to the front on the BE Racing machine. It took the Ballymoney rider until the fifth lap to find a way past but Sweeney wasn’t finished and battled William all the way to the chequered flag, only losing out by a tenth of a second. John Ella came home third. In the concurrently run Supersport 400 race it was a battle of the locals at the front with Andy Farrell, David Yeomans and David Howard doing battle for the win and the obligatory bragging rights. Farrell started the race just two points ahead of Gavin Lupton in the title race so he knew what he needed to do to clinch the trophy and all looked to be going swimmingly early on as he led at the front of the pack. However, Howard and Yeomans both got past as the race progressed but the final podium spot was enough to give Farrell the title. Lupton finished fourth.

Sam Dunlop and Paul Robinson lined up on the front row of the grid knowing that a win could give either of them the Irish 125cc championship as only seven points separated them. Robinson went on to take the win ahead of Sam by eight tenths of a second but second was enough to see yet another Dunlop name being engraved on the trophy. Warren Reeve took third just half a second behind with William Cowden taking fourth and Nigel Moore fifth.

Corkman Shane Egan started the Senior Support race as favourite for the title, holding a 19pt lead over Connor Behan with Mark Hanna ½ a point further behind. James Kelly was also still in the hunt as he only had a two point deficit to Hanna. The race had to be restarted after a red flag at the end of the opening lap but Egan held his nerve to take third in the restart and the title after both Hanna and Kelly had gotten past him. Hanna took the win just two tenths ahead of the Mullingar man to secure second in the championship. Behan crossed the line sixth behind Brendan Merrigan and Gavin Lupton which relegated him to fourth in the title standings.

The Junior Support race also had to be restarted due to a red flag incident on the opening lap with only the leaders having crossed the line. The race was restarted and after three laps it was the KMR machine of Behan that took the win with Hanna second and Egan third. Only seven tenths of a second covered the podium spots but second was enough to give Hanna the title ahead of Behan. David Howard took fourth ahead of Neil Kernoghan.

Michael Dunlop (MD Honda) gets big air as he chases down Tyco Suzuki's Guy Martin at the 2013 Armoy road races. Photo © Derek Clegg. All rights reserved.

Michael Dunlop chases down Guy Martin (Armoy)

Robert McCrum got back to winning ways in the 1000cc Classic race beating Richard Ford and John Scott. The 500cc race had two names on the entry list that fans were all too familiar with, albeit not on the classic grid, as both Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin lined up. Michael took a convincing win, beating his TT rival by 40 seconds with Tony Willis taking third. Barry Davidson finished the season unbeaten as he took yet another win in the 350cc classic race ahead of Sean Leonard and Sean Henry. Philip Shaw took the 250cc Classic win ahead of Alan ‘Bud’ Jackson and Gary Hutton.

That brought the curtain down on yet another season of national road racing, one that as I said started somewhat under a cloud of uncertainty with big names retiring and others looking likely to miss most of the season due to other commitments. However, as it panned out we were treated to some very close racing all year. With names like Sheils, Hamilton, Sweeney and McGee getting added to winners trophies it looks like the sport may well have a new breed of riders coming through to enthral the crowds who will hopefully throng the hedgerows of Ireland for many a year to come……and that’s all without even mentioning a certain pair of brothers who are still only in their twenties!!

At the time of writing, Michael Dunlop has been quoted as saying he may not race in 2014 whilst William has signed for TYCO Suzuki alongside Guy Martin. Jamie Hamilton looks set to stay with KMR Kawasaki with Sheils continuing to ride for the Chris Dowd outfit.


Irish Championships:

Open: Derek Sheils

Supersport: Jamie Hamilton

Supertwins: Jamie Hamilton

250cc: William Dunlop

125cc: Sam Dunlop

Supersport 400: Andy Farrell

Senior Support: Shane Egan

Junior Support: Mark Hanna


1000cc: Robert McCrum

500cc: Allan Brew

350cc: Barry Davidson

250cc: Philip Shaw


Aidan Lynam.
December 2013

Race Photography by Derek Clegg

Here for your viewing pleasure are 39 pictures by Derek Clegg some of which are used in the post above, together with some bonus pics.

To see more of Derek’s work, visit his web site at: http://www.derekclegg.net/

More road racing  content by Aidan Lynam:
Road racing, an Irish phenomenon – https://www.magireland.org/2012/news-media/road-racing-an-irish-phenomenon/