The 2018 Irish Championships arrived at a superbly prepared Seaforde Motocross Park for the penultimate round with a lot to play for.
Premier MX1 kicked off the day’s excitement with Richard Bird from Lisburn on his FivefiveMotorsport KTM who could claim the Championship found his chances boosted by the absence of John Meara, and he duly started the day with a comfortable win in the opening race ahead of Dundonald 20 year old James Mackrel on his Honda making a rare home appearance, and Robert Hamilton on the Risk Racing Honda, his nearest challenger, however, race 2 told a different tale when Bird went down In the first corner and Greyabbey newlywed, Craig Browne led for three laps on his Smoke Vent KTM from Jordan McCaw on his Unique fit out Husqvarna and of course, Mackrel, who was having a slow start, Hamilton was next to hit the deck when he lost the front end on an off camber down slope and was very slow coming through the pack to finish an eventual 8th, Mackrel ended up taking the win, with a charging Bird 3 seconds behind despite his visor working loose and hampering his vision, and Stephen Mulally from Dublin third, Browne holding on for a fine fourth.
Race 3 saw Bird stamp his authority on the Championship and clinch the title by leading from gate to flag despite the best efforts of Hamilton who finished second, Mackrel was strangely off the pace, maybe the fact this was his sixth 20-minute race of the day didn’t help, leaving Hamilton’s Risk Racing Honda team mate Sean Devlin to pick up a deserved podium place.
MX2 Premier class produced some uncharacteristic mistakes from Loughbrickland man Jason Meara with Glenn McCormick from Glenoe absent, Meara had an uninterrupted run to the title, but that man Mackrel was there to spoil the party
Their first race saw Meara off at the first corner leaving Mackrel to dominate the race winning by 3.5 seconds from a hard charging Meara who came from dead last, third was Limavady youngster Matthew Loughlin on his Honda, race 2 saw Mackrel claim a dominant win from Meara once again, winning by 30 seconds after another slip off from Jason, although this second was enough to claim his fourth Irish crown.
Race3 produced a Champions performance from Meara as he holeshot and led to win by 35 seconds from Mackrel, Jason said afterwards that he had crashed more today than at any other race any he was determined to sign off the day in style, and that he did.
Semi Expert MX1 produced another Champion in Ballygowan’s Johnny Presho taking his KTM to the overall win and the title, second on the day was local man Downpatrick’s Christopher Orr with Michael Clyde third overall.
Semi Expert MX2 saw Dublin teenager Lee Coffey clinch the overall and the Championship on his Honda, Rhys Graham kept him honest on the day with only 2 points separating them on the day, third was Dundrum youngster Ben Kennedy on his two stroke Yamaha, just pipping local rival Nathan Green to the last podium place.
Clubman MX1 was its usual procession behind treble winner Downpatrick KTM man Jordan Wade with local man Ballykinler resident Fintan Fallon riding to three second places, chased every race by Ballyclare youngster Jamie Mottram on his two stroke KTM to three thirds.
Clubman MX2 had an interesting start to the day when the three Championship protagonists got away together before Daniel McFerran from Newcastle dropped it, followed by Ruari Grimes from Lurgan falling on the last lap to allow Scott Bailey from Markethill to take the win.
McFerran made up for it in the following two races when he scorched into the distance on his rapid, but loud Honda leaving Bailey to grab the silver medal position on the day to take the Championship to Cork, Donegal youngster Ivan Kerr finished third overall as Grimes had a bad day at the office, including a bit of horticulture and hedge trimming in race 2! He will have to rely on non-finishes form his rivals if he is to clinch the crown now.
The Veterans and Over 35 Classes produced some entertaining racing with former Grand Prix star Laurence Spence on his 450 TM showing his class, and craft to take the Veterans title with three wins, fellow County Down resident Adrian Lappin took runner up on his 250 TM with Brian Presho from Ballygowan third on his KTM.
Over 35 Grade A saw popular Dundalk man Sean Kelly take second place and the crown with the stylish Comber pub owner Jonathan McBride winning on his Kawasaki, and Richard Watt third on his KTM, Grade B was won by Ashley Allerton gamely riding six races on the day, while Grade C was won by Kesh man Peter Jones by a point from Newtownards veteran Graeme Jellie, with President of the ‘Wooden Spoon Club’ Gordon Magill was third on his TM 250
Another great days racing organised by the Mourne Club, and congratulations to the Champions crowned today, the rest will have to wait until September and the long trek south to Vernon Mount for the culmination of the 2018 Irish Championship season.
Words: Malcolm Beattie Images: Ian Cairns