Friday, 21 June 2019

Potter steals the show at Kirkistown for ITCC rounds 5&6

(22-06-2019; Stephen Potter, Honda Integra, leads Ciaran Denvir, Honda Civic, on his way to winning the Techit.ie ITCC race one at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)     
For rounds five and six of the Techit.ie Irish Touring Car Championship saw the drivers make their second appearance at Kirkistown race circuit in county Down. The grid was again somewhat depleted after championship contenders Jay O’Reilly and Ulick Burke were non-starters. Burke’s Honda Integra lost fouth gear in practice on Friday and O’Reilly unable to get his car ready in time front his accident in Bishopscourt last month. Also missing were brothers Keith and Shane Rabbit due to ECU and transmission problems. There was some good news however, as joining the grid for the first time this year was Owain Drought who impressed straight away by putting his beautiful GSport ran, VW Golf on the second row in qualifying. Main championship contenders Ciaran Denvir and Stephen Potter head the front row with Potter putting his Honda Integra on pole by over half a second.


(22-06-2019; Stephen Potter, Honda Integra, leads Ciaran Denvir, Honda Civic, on his way to winning the Techit.ie ITCC race one at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)    
At the last visit here in March Denvir took the double and was hoping to repeat the same feat this weekend. “ I had a good qualifying but have new tyres on for the race so I hope that will help close the gap to Stephen.”


22-06-2019; Stephen Potter, Honda Integra, leads Ciaran Denvir, Honda Civic, on his way to winning the Techit.ie ITCC race one at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)  
Once the lights went out both white Honda’s got the jump on the field and Potter led into turn one. From the exit of turn two the front row men opened a gap of four car lengths to third place man Stephen Traub in his Honda Civic. Once clear Potter and Denvir battled it out. While Potter was strong on the second half of the lap Denvir was better on the first half but just could not find a way by. Potter opened up a half a second by lap six but a lap later it was bumper to bumper again. Then the backmarkers came into play and Potter used them to his benefit brilliantly and broke away. Then drama for Denvir at the beginning of the last lap when a right front brake pipe burst, leaving him with only the handbrake for stopping power.
   
“ I was having a good battle with Stephen but he got through the traffic better than me and then the front right brake pipe burst so i had to use the handbrake on the last lap. I was lucky it happened then and not earlier.”

Potter took the flag comfortably from Denvir with Drought making his way up to third in a fantastic debut race. The win for Potter, his first this year gave him a good boost for race two.

“ I am delighted with that result, it was a good race and Ciaran pushed me all the way until we caught the traffic where i got a gap on him, then his brakes went!”
(22-06-2019; Stephen Potter, Honda Integra, leads Ciaran Denvir; Honda Civic; on his way to winning the Techit.ie ITCC race two at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown; Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)
Race two began in the same way as the first with Potter getting the holeshot. This time however he gapped Denvir by half a second by the end of the first lap. From there he increased his lead each lap without an answer from Denvir. It wasn’t from trying though, but a costly mistake on lap four at the hairpin when Denvir outbraked himself going into the corner allowed him to drop further behind Potter.

Owain Drought lay third from lap one but never made an impression on the front two, but still in all it was an impressive first outing. Potter cruised home to win by 21.065 seconds to take the double and to put his name into the championship hat.

(22-06-2019; Owain Drought, VW Golf, in action during the Techit.ie ITCC race one at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown; Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)
(22-06-2019; Daniel Faherty, Honda Civic, on his way to winning Class C during the Techit.ie ITCC race one at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown; Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)
(22-06-2019; Tony Gallagher, Honda Accord, on his way to winning Class C during the Techit.ie ITCC race two at Kiriskistown. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown; Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)   
The spirit of ITCC award went to Alan Donnelly after trying to replace an engine and wiring loom until 3am after misfortunes in practice on Friday. He just ran out of time but endures he will be back out at the next round. Driver of the Day went to Owain Drought after scoring two podium finishes in his first outing.
(22-06-2019; Owain Drought, VW Golf, won both the Driver of the Day award and Class B. 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland Ltd. Championship Car Races. Kirkistown; Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg)

The next round brings the driver south of the border for the first time of the year to Mondello Park on the 13/14 of July.

Results by class:
Race 1

Class A
1st Stephen Potter
2nd Ciaran Denvir
3rd Andrew Armstrong

Class B
1st Owain Drought

Class C
1st Daniel Faherty
2nd Tony Gallagher
3rd Adrian Dunne

Race 2
Class A
1st Stephen Potter
2nd Ciaran Denvir
3rd Andrew Armstrong

Class B
1st Owain Drought

Class C
1st Tony Gallagher
2nd Adrian Dunne
3rd Daniel Faherty



Thursday, 20 June 2019

Always A Racer


( Baylon McCaughey at Kells Road Races 2019. Photo: Barry Cregg )

For a lot of competitors in any sport of any level there has to be a time when the proverbial boots, jersey, saddle, helmet, gloves or whatever the case may be have to be hung up for good at some point. The problem is that this can be an easy or willing thing to do or for some and impossible for others. The real problem is not giving up something they love doing but finding something to replace it. Some stay away from the scene they were in completely or some get involved in it even more. The latter can be certainly said for one man.
  

( Baylon gets to grips with his first bike in 1976 and also had a short career as a Spice Girl. Photo: Baylon McCaughey personal collection. )

Baylon McCaughey is a native of Cookstown, Co. Tyrone and for his sixty years so far on this earth he has been into and involved with motorbikes. Coming from a town steeped in motorcycle sport with the annual road races taking place there each year it is no wonder the bug was caught early on. He made his first trip to see the heros of the day racing through his home town with his late father Tommy when he was three years old.
The young toddlers eyes were opened wide to this new loud, noisy, smelly, exciting world of motorbike racing.


     
(Baylon first competitive outings where on grasstrack and motocross meetings. Photo Baylon McCaughey personal collection)                                                                               

“ I suppose my earliest memories of racing would be when I was about three years old when my late father Tommy who was always a great road race fan brought me to the Cookstown 100 races when it was on the old Orritor circuit. Dad had this old Ford Thames van and a friend who was with us was a joiner and had made a platform to put on the roof of the van so they could stand and watch the races on it. So they were up on it watching and I was left in the van, when I heard some guy come off and I went mad to see what was going on so they had to put me up on the platform with them so its been a way of life since.”

A butcher by trade didn’t always lend kindly to his real passion as saturday being the busiest day of the week, often clashed with road races after spring came each year until autumn came in. The only Saturday’s that he could get off were for the Cookstown 100, North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT.

“ I was more interested in the roads side of racing than short circuits, when I was growing up as there were more of them near us. It was only when I started getting Motorcycle News magazine that I really opened my eyes to the sport, as that was a big thing to get at the time as you could read up on all the other tracks over in England.”

It is worth mentioning also that the award ‘Man of the Meeting’ which is given out at the end of each road race today was setup by Baylon’s father Tommy who in 1973 stumped up £100 (the equivalent of £1200 today) for the rider deemed to deserved a bit more for his efforts on the day.

( Baylon McCaughey at Kells Road Races 2019. Photo: Barry Cregg )

The natural progression was to try and find a way into racing, but these were the days when your job was main priority to keep as there weren't many going round. Unlike today where you see the top riders having started racing in mini-motos before they started school! Different times and also a different philosophy too as Baylon while he enjoyed a twenty-five year run at racing it was always for fun and not to try and make a career out of it.

His first race on two wheels was not on tar but grass, and competed in local grasstrack events to begin with on a 250 air cooled EMC and eventually to a RM250 Suzuki in events all over the North of Ireland. While he enjoyed these events it was tarmac racing where his heart lay.

“ I started out doing grasstrack's all over the north usually on a Wednesday or Friday night, and also did the one and only hill climb organized by the Dundalk MCC. I won three classes that day and as it was only run the once, I still hold the fastest times for the 400cc, Production and 1000cc classes!”
By late 1986 a usual trip to the Aghadowey race circuit in county Derry, to watch the days races as normal, turned out to be a not so usual day after all, but one which would change his mind for the next twenty- five years. It is when Baylon threw his leg over a bike for the first time to race on a circuit as he laughingly recalls.


(Baylon in action on his 350 LC Yamaha during his first race at Mondello Park in 1987. Photo: Baylon McCaughey personal collection.)

“ I can talk about it now but I couldn’t talk about it at the time, but I went out to Aghadowey one Saturday to watch the last round of the championship and two of my mates were racing in the production class and were lying first and second. After the race the boys started joking, saying ‘ you should be out there racing etc etc. So a couple of weeks later I went to Aghadowey again for a club championship round and in those days they used to do handicap races after lunch and I was sitting in Davey Campbells van when he said he wasn’t feeling well and that I should go out for him instead. I said ‘sure I have never raced before let alone around here!’ to which he replied; ‘ well if you don’t do it now you will never do it’. So I put on Davey’s leathers and helmet jumped on his RG500 Suzuki and lined up on the grid beside George Farlow of all people as Davey had already finished second to him earlier in the day! The warm-up lap was the first time I ever went around Aghadowey! Of course George lapped me but I was able to stay with him down the straights so it gave me an inkling that I could do this racing craic!”


(Baylon competing in the Production class on his Yamaha 350 at Nutts Corner and Mondello Park. Photo Baylon McCaughey collection.)
For 1987 a 350 LC Yamaha was bought for £700 after his grasstrack mechanic Davey Rea sourced it from a local guy who’s son that had ran off to England after he realized he could not afford the repayments! The first round of the short circuit championship that year was held in Mondello Park in county Kildare on St. Patricks weekend. It was also held on the original circuit layout and it wasn’t Baylon’s first day out too as former 250 GP winner Jeremy McWilliams was also starting out on his racing journey. The bike was kept for the 1988 season but with work done by the late Kevin Owens father of former racing star Phelim.

“ I kept the bike but Kevin put on his own TZ700 Yamaha carburetors on to the engine and changed the ignition as well as doing some work to the engine during the winter months. The bike became a missile but it didn’t handle, but because I hadn’t much experience anyway I knew no better and just rode it the way it was. I raced it in Mondello and finished fourth and thought I was in with a chance at Kirkistown on Easter Monday but crashed on the first lap of practice after the front mudgaurd tucked in and threw me over the handlebars and to make matters worse I got hit by Terry Bailie who clipped my helmet and sent me spinning down the back straight!”



( Baylon in action at his beloved Aghadowey. Photo Baylon McCaughey collection.)
It was a few weeks later in Mondello when he got back on the bike more to see if he still wanted to race and he still enjoyed it and decided to carry on.

By 1989 Mark Hamilton set up a street-bike championship which was looking to be the way to go for racers who wanted to do it on a small budget and it proved successful as Baylon finished sixth in that years championship. By now he had gained more experience and started to show promise and challenging the front runners and this led to him buying a 250 Kawasaki KR1S which was only the second to come into the country as Stephen Ferguson had bought the other. By 1991 and with a season under his belt, Baylon when made it to the top step on the KR1S at Aghadowey of all places. The circuit where it all began five years previously and not only once but twice giving him more confidence and to start taking it a small bit more seriously.


( Baylon in action on his Kawasaki KR1S at Nutts Corner in 1990. Photo Baylon McCaughey collection.)
“ During this time I also did some drag racing, quarter mile stuff which was mostly organized by Cork MCC. I competed at places like the Phoenix Park in Dublin, and in Enniscorthy in county Wexford, mostly in the 400 class and won quite a few of those.”

By 1994 the 250cc Kawasaki became a 400cc Kawasaki which was purchased from former road racer Fran Morrison. It took some time to adjust back from riding a two stroke for so long but by the end of 1996 things were starting to fall into place. The bike was going well and Baylon’s riding was improving also as stead result started to come in regularly, and by end of season at Aghadowey he beat Dave Guiney to win the last championship round in the Supersport 400 class.



( Baylon in action on his KR1S Kawasaki at Nutts Corner. Photo Baylon McCaughey collection.)
“ Things weren’t so hot for a few years but by the end of ’96 I started riding better and won at Aghadowey and my confidence got better and I thought to myself I could have a good go at this next year”

With a couple of weeks to go before the opening round of the 1997 season at Nutts Corner, an accident in work meant racing might be put on hold as a back injury was preventing him to do anything let alone race.

“ I hurt my back at work a couple of weeks before the first race and by the middle of the week prior to it I still didn’t have the engine in the bike. So I got my mother to help me put it in a one night in the shed at home! We got to Nutts Corner on the Saturday and managed to get four laps of practice in. It was very cold that day and I decided to put on wets where everyone else had dries on. I ended up walking the first race as my tyres would heat up quicker so I got the jump on them then, but for race too everyone had wets on but I still won but not by as much as the first race.”


( Baylon in action on his ex-Fran Morrison ZXR400 Kawasaki at Mondello Park during his championship winning year. Photo Baylon McCaughey collection.)
From that first round the winning streak kicked in big style as Baylon had a fantastic year on the Kawasaki, taking victory sixteen times and also the championship. Mondello was the worst race of my life as all I had to do was finish it and I would be champion, and it went on for what seemed like forever as I went out for fun, I didn’t enjoy that part of it.”

A step up to a 750cc Kawasaki for the new production class that year and finished third in the championship. A mixture of 600 cc and 100cc bikes followed in the next few years with some success finishing mid table against the likes of top stars of the time like Hilton Hinks and John Niland. Also at this time the Irish Bike Endurance team was setup to race at Snetterton in the UK and in the 400cc class Baylon joined a team of Simon Turner, Mark Arnott, Mark Hamilton and Matt Niland. Their best result was second and their worst was fourth so not a bad run al in all.


( Baylon on his way to take his only road race win at his home race the Cookstown 100. Photo: Baylon McCaughey personal collection)
By 2002 a new form of racing caught the eye of Baylon. Supermoto was the two wheeled version of rallycross. With the machines looking similar to motocross bikes but with road race tyres on them. There has never been a duck in sight that took to water like Baylon did to these new machines qualifying for the ‘A’ Final at the first race held at Nutts Corner by the Killinchy MCC. Not only that he beat non othe rthan Jeremy McWilliams in a repechage final in the process! By the years end he finished in the championship to Ross Dunleavy who was half his age and also a Grade A motocross rider. 2017 was his final year in Supermoto finishing on a high by winning the production class and runner-up in the ‘B’ Class.


( Baylon leads Jeremy McWilliams at an early Supermoto event at Nutts Corner in 1991. Photo: Baylon McCaughey personal collection.)
Baylon has a unique statistic where he has been the only rider to have been asked to partake in both Honda and Suzuki’s 50th isle of Man TT anniversaries.

As with all good things they have to come to an end. By 2011 Baylon had been racing twenty-four years with one piece of the jigsaw missing and it was also very fitting when on the 30th of April 2011 Baylon took the chequered flag to take his one and only road race win in the Support ‘B’ race. A race which was dedicated to his late father Tommy.

So as the 2012 season approached it was time to take stock and see if racing was giving him as much pleasure as before. So it was decided that on April 1st 2012 at Mondello Park, Baylon would throw his leg over a race bike for the last time.
( Baylon in action during his final race at Mondello Park in 2012. Photo: Joe Connolly.)
“ I decided that twenty-five was a nice round figure, and I also started at Mondello and I wanted to finish at Mondello . It was lovely that they gave me a lap of honor that day too, it meant a lot and still does to this day.”

(Baylon during his lap of honor at his final race meeting at Mondello Park in 2012. Photo: Joe Connolly)

Having been involved in the sport here for so long he has seen a lot of changes and a lot of people come and go, races come and go, but still holds the same love for the sport. From the time he watched his hero Brian Steenson race when he was young to other local riders like Richard Britten, Jeremy McWilliams, Matt and John Niland, Ryan Farquhar, as well as the Laverty’s, Rea’s, Dunlops to name but a few and can lay claim to have beaten a few of them!

( Baylon crosses the line for the final time on his lap of honor at his final race at Mondello Park in 2012. Photo: Stacy Wogan.)
I wondered from all his experience what is the difference in racing in Ireland now to when he started?

“ It probably sounds a bit silly but there is too much money involved in it now, its too serious too. One time boys could go out for a few beer on a race weekend and have a laugh but that’s all gone now and while there is still 'the craic' in the paddock now it isn’t the same as it used to be. I do believe a cheaper for of racing is needed here. The expense of putting on a road race meeting too is killing clubs as the insurance is so high. The likes of the North West 200 and the TT while are still great but have started to cater less and less for the ordinary man.”

Although the leathers were hung up he was not walking away from motorbikes or racing, as he had been involved previously as secretary of the Cookstown and District MCC in years gone by. Baylon has done so much for the sport from marshalling to writing articles for race programmes for numerous clubs, to helping out riders as they start out and he is also a keen photographer.

“ I miss racing but maybe not on the wet days! But on a good day, then yes the want to be out there remains. I made a decision to quit at twenty-five years. Im one of the very lucky ones to say I have won races, won an Irish championship, won a road race and retire with no broken bones or lasting injuries.”

( Baylon showing that he shares the same visits to the Isle of Man as James Chawke's race number  at this years TT. Photo: James Chawke)

( Baylon with the 'King of the Roads' Joey Dunlop. Photo: Baylon McCaughey personal collection.)
Did you hear the one about the ex-works Irish rider and the Castrol Oil man?

When the Faugheen 50 returned to the road race map again, about ten years ago, I booked into a wee guesthouse, near the circuit. When I returned on the Saturday night after the practices, the owner asked me, was I at the bikes, I replied, yes, and he said he used to work on the "Continental Circus" "(that was the race scene in the 1960’s)

We got talking and he told me worked for Castrol Oils as a rep, his nickname on the Grand Prix scene was "Castrol Bob"
Anyway, we enjoyed the 'craic', and during the following year kept in touch.

The following year I again booked myself into his guesthouse. I showed him a book that I had found. In it had a photograph of Bob with Tommy Robb. I gave him the book, and he was gobsmacked!

I told him that the Ulster Grand Prix was the following week at Dundrod and that there would be a classic parade at it, and there might be a few old bikes he would like to see. He agreed to go so I returned the favor and put him up at my house, took him to the UGP, and showed him around the paddock etc. 

Now unknown to Bob, I had secretly arranged for him to meet his old friend Tommy Robb, and likewise Tommy, who also knew nothing about this. So we got the teas and sat down beside these two gentlemen, and for a second, Bob and Tommy were both speechless when they looked at each other when Tommy shouted out Castrol Bob!!!!!!, well, it was worth a million pounds to see these two guys faces! I was a proud person that day as I reunited two friends after 40 years!”

You are likely to find Baylon anywhere, as I did in the middle of nowhere in county Donegal at the  car rally one year but one thing is for sure that you will have a good yarn and a laugh with him. You will definitely find him on the Isle of Man in June as to date he has been going there for the TT for the last forty-three years!

You are likely to find Baylon anywhere as I did in the middle of nowhere in county Donegal at the  car rally one year but one thing is for sure that you will have a good yarn and a laugh with him. You will definitely find him on the Isle of Man in June as to date he has been going there for the TT for the last forty-three years! Sadly he has endured some poor health in the last few months and is currently recovering from heart surgery, but hopefully that is all behind him now and he will be back to full strength again soon. 


( Baylon with Tommy Robb, left, and Bob Reeves 'Castrol Bob'. Photo: Jim Lee)
A story like that sums up Baylon who would do anything to help someone out. Im sure I am not the only one in wishing this gentleman the best of health in the future, as both the road race and short circuit paddocks have been a poorer place with out him around them.



Sunday, 16 June 2019

CC's Unlimited Kells Road Races 2019

(16-06-2019: Derek Sheils, Suzuki GSXR 1000R, on his way to winning the Grand Final race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg )

After been off the calendar for the last two years the CC'S Unlimited Kells Road Races made a much welcome return this weekend. A lot of hard work by the North Meath Road Racing Club went into putting on this years event and it paid off as a large crowds came out to line the hedges along the 2.2 mile Crossakiel circuit. Thankfully the expected rain stayed away for riders and fans alike for the day which enabled race schedule to run smoothly. Sadly due to injuries sustained at the recent Tandragee and Isle of Man TT races, meant front runners Adam McClean and Derek McGee were missing from the grid. After a great Senior TT result of 9th, Brian McCormack was also not on the grid but that didn't mean road racing fans were left short of action at this years event.

(16-06-2019: Michael Sweeney, BMW S1000RR, jumps Hanlon's Leap during the Open race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

(16-06-2019: A general view of Marshals watching Michael Sweeney, BMW S1000RR, over Hanlon's Leap during the Open race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

For the Open race Derek Sheils started from pole position and was out to maintain his 2019 winning streak in the Open class. He made the hole-shot into turn one and lead the field down towards Hanlon's jump on the opening lap. His fellow Dubliner Michael Sweeney kept him honest for the first four laps until Sheils consistant lap times help him edge away from Sweeney. He ran in a comfortable winner by six seconds by the end of the race.The battle for the final podium spot also entertained the crowd as Thomas Maxwell and Paul Jordan battled it out for the whole race with Maxwell coming out on top by 0.061 of a second.

(16-06-2019: Derek Sheils, Suzuki GSXR 1000, leads Michael Sweeney, BMW S1000RR, over Hanlon's Leap during the Open race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

For the Supersport 600 race Sheils again started from pole position, and led on the opening laps but Jordan made his move on lap three and took the lead on his Yamaha. It was turning into a cracker but sadly for Sheils his Yamaha cried enough and he had to retire. This let Jordan run home comfortably from Michael Sweeney and Daryl Tweed.

(16-06-2019: Derek Sheils, Yamaha R6, leads Paul Jordan, Yamaha R6, over Hanlon's Leap during the Supersport 600 race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

(16-06-2019: Paul Jordan, Yamaha R6, leads Derek Sheils, Yamaha R6, over Hamlon's Leap during the Supersport 600 race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

16-06-2019: Derek Sheils, Yamaha R6, leads Paul Jordan, Yamaha R6, over Hanlon's Leap during the Supersport 600 race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

(16-06-2019: Paul Jordan, Yamaha R6, leads Derek Sheils, Yamaha R6, over Hamlon's Leap during the Supersport 600 race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

In the Supertwins, Andy Farrell and Kevin Baker broke away from the field and battled closely for three quarters of the race but baker lost time on lap six giving Farrell a winning margin by 0.8 seconds at the end.

(16-06-2019: Andy farrell, Kawasaki 650, on his way to winning the supertwins race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg )

A poor showing of Moto 3 and 125cc bikes with only eight bikes lining up on the grid makes for a worrying future for the class but that aside they put on a good show with Gary Dunlop leading from the off from Sam Grief who dropped to fourth in the end after Kevin Fitzpatrick and Melissa Kennedy got by with a lap to go. The sight of the yellow helmet stills gives the crowds a smile as it passes by the hedgerows and lets hope the class builds up in the future.

(16-06-2019: Gary Dublop, Honda, leads Sam Grief, Honda, on his way to winning the Moto 3 race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg )

The Junior Support class was fought out between Eoin O'Siochru and Kevin Baker both on Kawasaki's, after inital leader Vinny Brennan lead dropped to third after lap one. Baker took over for the next two laps until lap three when O'Siochru made his move to the front where he stayed to the flag.

(16-06-2019: Andy McAllister, left, Suzuki GSXR 750, jumps Hanlon's Leap with Tommy Henry,right, Yamaha R6, on his way to winning the Senior Support race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

(16-06-2019: Andy McAllister, Suzuki GSXR 750, jumps Hanlon's Leap on his way to winning the Senior Support race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

In the Senior Support race a cracking battle between Andy McAllister on his Suzuki and Kevin Baker on his Yamaha unfolded for the first half of the race but McAllister pulled away in the end to win by five seconds. In the Classic 250 - 350cc race Ed Manley won easily from Brian Mateer and Ian Thompson. In the 500 - 100cc Classic race Richard Ford won from Ed Manly by a 1.5 seconds with Barry Davidson in third.

(16-06-2019: Flag Marshall Mike Murphy from Listowel; Co. Kerry; mans his post as Kevin Baker passes by during the Junior Support race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel; Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

The Grand Final ended the days races with Sheils starting from pole again on his Suzuki. He again led the field into turn one and never looked back as he annihilated the field in a very impressive ride. Sadly Michael Sweeney's BMW S1000RR broke down on lap one ruling out any chance of a battle with Sheils.

(16-06-2019: Derek Sheils, Suzuki GSXR 1000R, on his way to winning the Grand Final race at Kells Road Races. Kells Road Races Crossakiel, Co. Meath. Photo: Barry Cregg)

Even if it had not broken down such was the pace of Sheils he wasn't going to threaten his fellow Dubliner. Shiels ran home a comfortable winner from Paul Jordan and Thomas Maxwell. Yes the grid was missing two top riders who would have made the races closer but that is the way of racing and hopefully all heal quickly and return to the race between the hedges soon. Next up is Enniskillen Road races which take place on the 28/29 of June.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Racing Snapper!


(Photo: Barry Cregg)

Everyone has their hobbies and most dream to turn them into reality but for the majority it stays that way for various reasons. On occasion though some make it a reality and one such person who has done it is Greystones man Cormac Ryan- Meenan.

Cormac has the pleasure of photographing the wonderful, crazy, exciting, thrilling world that is Moto GP. So if photography was his hobby and has become his job what is his hobby now?

Well it just seems like Cormac cannot get away from motorbikes as when he is not photographing them he is racing them. I managed to catch up with him at a recent race meeting in Athboy Kart Centre, where he was competing in the Irish Mini Bike Championship to ask how it all came about.

“I started off by accident really as I had just finished school and started using dad’s camera, taking pictures of little dinky cars. I wasn’t really into it like some people are I was just messing around photographing different things during the year after I finished school.”


(Photo: Barry Cregg)


One thing that has always interested him since he was barely out of nappies, is the motorbike. Of any kind also not just one form, so when he was four years of age he managed to get himself a run on a motocross bike. The noise, smell or speed didn’t scare the youngster and as he grew up he competed on and off in motocross and enduro events around the country.

“ I love bikes I have been on them since I was four from motocross to enduro and now pitbikes!”

After a year off from finishing school it was time to find out what he wanted to do and by this time photography was looking more interesting as a career. While on a trip to Spain and to a Moto GP test day his mind was made up.

“It took me a while to really get into and like photography as I hadn’t planned on doing it as a job. I went to a Moto GP test at the Jerez circuit in Spain and made contacts with HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) who liked my stuff and it took off from there.”

(Photo: Barry Cregg)

Is it as glamorous as people might think, the life of a Moto GP photographer?

“ It can be great and is for the most part but there is time where it definitely isn’t but I guess every job is like that. There is a lot of travelling involved and you have to plan your year early in terms of flights, accommodation, etc. For instance I book my flights for the european period of the season in January. You do get to see some great places and meet great people and you get close to everything, but after a while the novelty of getting close to the likes of Rossi, Lorenzo for example wears off and the riders are just people you are there to photograph. That’s what I am there to do like them being there to ride the bikes.”

Cormac has also become an ambassador for Sony after all his camera equipment was sadly stolen on him. Technology has moved on so much with cameras getting better all the time and with the new mirrorless cameras coming on the scene more and more, I wondered does it make his life easier?

“ I had used Cannon up to when it was all stolen on me and I was left a bit stuck and wasn’t sure what way to go as its all big money to buy what you need. Also if I bought the same again an I was to go to the new mirrorless cameras further down the road I would loose a load of money. I had put up on twitter that my gear was nicked and through that I got in touch with Sony and they kindly supplied me with equipment.”

(Photo: Barry Cregg)

Cormac has setup his own website cormacgp.photoshelter.com as has built up a nice portfolio of clients with Oakley , AGV and Dainese using him as their ambassador.

From where we stood talking about racing, photography and everything else it dawned on me it must be world’s apart from the slick, colourful, organised Moto GP paddocks around the world.

But if your into racing you will go anywhere really, It is good to see someone from our shores making waves in the world of Moto GP. He is handy on a bike too and like all racers he reckons not all the bikes are as evenly matched as they are ment to be!

Photographs: Barry Cregg


Saturday, 8 June 2019

On Yer Bike - with Nancie Armstrong


(Photo: Barry Cregg )


For any of us that follow motorsport be it two wheels or four, there seems to be an uptake of female competitors in the last couple of years here in Ireland.

On four wheels the likes of Nicole Drought, Aimee Woods, Emma Dempsey, Nicci Daly, Kayleigh Cole and Ruth Nugent have taken to the tracks and have gone wheel to wheel with the men and have held their own at the same time. This is great for both the girls and also the sport as it helps to improve grid numbers.

There is also a rise in numbers on two wheels also, but more on the off-road side of the sport as opposed to tarmac. There is Melissa Kennedy and Yvonne Montgomery on the short circuit and pure road race scene but one woman is determined to change that at grass roots level of the sport.

Nancie Armstrong from Cookstown in county Tyrone is currently competing in the increasingly popular sport of pitbike racing or to give its proper title Irish Minibike Championship.
This two wheeled discipline caters for all ages, shapes and sizes and with equipment being affordable and with relatively low maintenance it is attracting a lot of interest in the last couple of years.

Always a lover of bikes and being from an area steeped in motorbike racing it was not long before she wanted one for the road.

“ I got fed up of getting the bus to college and also the cost of it made me more determined to get a ‘wee’ bike. So I saved up and got myself a Honda C90.”

(Photo: Barry Cregg )

While using this cheaper form of transport racing was not on her radar but her need for speed was growing though. While the little Honda did it’s job well it just did it too slow and eventually was replaced by a Honda CBR 125.
This need for speed was becoming a habit and before it got her into to trouble, Nancie came across minibike racing at Nutts Corner. She was immediately hooked and wanted to have a go. One problem was that she had nobody to help her. Her parents and friends are not into bikes and in fact have yet to see her race!

After some enquiries were made a Mini GP bike was bought and with the help of Joe and Gerard Quinn she began racing in 2017. While she enjoyed the GP bike a high-side crash made her turn to the stock 140 class where the bikes have straight handlebars as opposed to the dropped ones the GP bikes.

 (Photo: Barry Cregg )
 
(Photo: Fran Hollywood)

“ I had a crash on the GP bike and I didn’t like the feel from them either so I switched to the stock 140 class where I felt much more comfortable on the bike and found I could ride it to its limits easier.”

(Photo: Fran Hollywood)

(Photo: Fran Hollywood)

Now in her fourth year of racing and having moved up to the Senior Open class on a Honda 150 CRF, she is well able to mix it with the boys having recently finished 9th and 11th out of fourty riders in a race at the Three Sisters circuit in the UK. Nancie being the only girl on the grid is eager to show that this form of motorcyle racing is ideal for women looking to try something new.

(Photo: Barry Cregg )
Photographs: Barry Cregg
Action Photographs: Fran Hollywood