The official National Championships in the form of the MCUI Irish Motocross Championships arrive north after their St Patricks day launch in Cork at Tandragee MX Park near Laurelvale this Saturday 13th April.
In terms of rider development, these are the only National Championships recognised by manufacturers, Government both North & South of the border, and the World Governing Body the FIM. These are also the Championships that aspiring Team Ireland members will be selected from, whether for the Motocross of Nations or the Coupe de l’Avenir, and also for selection for assistance through the SportNI schemes and the MRA Coaching Academy, so for riders wishing to progress within the sport, and also run with the only Governing Body on the island with all appropriate policies in place for protection and assurance, this is the only place to be.
The Championship got off to a great start in Cork & the Premier MX1 Class is led by defending Champion Richard Bird on his KTM, but the Lisburn man is only 2 points ahead of John Meara on his Kawasaki, with brother Jason Meara only 3 adrift of him, the switch to the big class seems to have revitalised the tall Co Down native. Robert Hamilton, ex Irish & Ulster Champion is fourth on his KTM, tied on pints with Jason, fifth & sixth tied only five behind are the next generation of riders with Dundonald Yamaha star James Mackrel, probably the most exciting talent on the island, and Ballymoney’s Jordan McCaw also newly switched to KTM.
In the Premier MX2 Class, this is certainly the domain of the youngsters with young Dubliner Jake Sheridan leading by 7 points from his neighbour David Galvin, who is tied with Jordan Keogh tied on points in third on his Kawasaki the first non KTM in the top six, fourth is Jack Galvin, tied with James Mackrel doing double duty on his 250 Yamaha, with James Doyle sixth.
Semi Expert MX1 is led by a Ballygowan’s Aaron Ashton by 1 point from Ballymena man Sean Laverty, Gary Marmion and Kyle Farrell McCauley are tied for third 7 points behind Laverty, with Mark Cronin fifth 2 points behind them, and local man Lurgan’s Gareth Knox enjoying his racing again in sixth only a point behind.
Turning to the Semi Expert MX2 class, Crossgar teenager Connor Mullan seems almost unbeatable so far this year on his KTM and leads local man Dollingstowns William McBride newly Yamaha mounted by 9 points, third is ex Quad Champion Leon Rodgers on his Yamaha making an impressive switch from 4 to 2 wheels, fourth is Magherafelt’s Jake Hall on his Husqvarna, fifth is Cian Buckley and sixth Carrickfergus man Karl Thompson.
Clubman MX1 sees Kealin McLaughlin lead by 3 points from Josh Rea with Connor Plant, Chris Boles, Padraig Maloney and Michael O’Driscoll chasing but look out for Stephen Mottram and Lee McGrath to show well in the Northern rounds.
Ardglass youngster Eoin Duffy leads the Clubman MX2 class by 3 points from Robert McAuley with Sam Galvin, Jamie Fleming and Carrickfergus man Darren Grills giving chase.
A healthy field of Veterans also turned out in Cork and the over 45 Veterans Class is led by ex GP star Laurence Spence on his TM, from George Radley, Gary Sullivan and Paul Heaney, while the Over 35 Grade A’s is led by Mick Mooney from Daryl Maguire, Ricky Watt and Jonathan McBride, the Semi Experts is led by Macej Goldyn from Ian Cooney and Jonathan O’Brien and the Clubmen les led by Brian Presho from Darren Wilkinson and Martin Thornton.
As the Veterans do not get prize money, the North Armagh Club are putting up free entries for their Ulster Championship round in September to the winners of all classes, with free gate entry for the other two podium finishers in each class.
Racing starts at the spectacular fast and jump filled circuit near Laurelvale at 11.00, entry is £5 per adult and under 14’s free so come along and see the best racing from the best riders in Ireland.
Words: Malcolm Beattie
Pic: Ian Cairns