Local team backs Parkhill ahead of start of motorcycle season

Conor Parkhill, one of the brightest youngsters to hit the scene in recent years looked like he was going to be forced to sit the 2013 season out.

Antrim joiner Bob Wylie, right, poses for an exclusive photo for the Times, with Conor Parkhill, on bike and Conor's dad Stuart. Picture: Roy Adams.

I can reveal, however, that at the last moment, the Eglinton based rider has been thrown a lifeline by Antrim joiner Bob Wylie, who will provide a brand new 675 Triumph for the talented 16 year old. Wylie racing currently runs the only genuine Moto3 machine in Ireland.

Young Parkhill, son of former Classic racer Stuart, only started racing in 2009 on a 125. Last season he finished in second place in both the Irish and Ulster Supertwins championship, riding one of Ryan Farquhars ER6’s.

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Wylie Racing have already taken delivery of the new bike, which has already started to undergo the change from road bike to race bike in the teams workshop. The bike will be raced by Conor on the short circuits, and English woman Maria Costello will use it in selected road races, including the North West. Maria will also have the use of Wylies Moto3 bike at some road races as well.

PADRAIG GRAHAM GETS 250

another young lad who has received a timely boost to his 2013 campaign is Toomebridge’s Padraig Graham.

After taking time away from racing to gain a Masters degree in Architecture, the 25 year old, who is better known for racing a GP125, steps up top the GP250 class, courtesy of Derek Wray, of D&GW Racing.

Padraig, who is better known as Poddy, is the elder of two racing brothers. The younger brother, Cahal, 19, will continue to race the GP125 Honda that he campaigned last year.

Padraig told me: “I’ve always wanted to ride a decent 250. We had one a few years back, but it wasn’t really much of a bike. This one, as far as I hear, is the same bike that William Dunlop rode so I’m just dying to get out on it.” He will also make an odd appearance on the 125.

Poddy has ridden a Honda that Eugene Laverty raced at GP level. The bike fell far short of what it should have been. Just to underline that on a good 250 he is a match for the best, the local lad rode Ronnie Shields’ Yamaha in a one off deal, winning first time out at Mondello.

NUTTS CORNER THIS WEEKEND

The first race action proper takes place this weekend, at Nutts Corner, when the Mid Antrim club will run an open meeting. Practice is due to get under way at 9.30am, and according to a club spokesman, if all goes well they hope to run a couple of races before the lunch interval.

All classes will be catered for, although some will be amalgamated with others due to small entry numbers.

In the Superbike class Gareth Keyes could top the results, with English visitor Gavin Lupton travelling over to have his first race on his new S&D backed machinery.

In the Supersport 600 class Antrim’s Jamie Patterson will come to the line, but he will have things hard with Jason Lynn being on a brand new Suzuki. Young Lynn took 5 wins at Nutts Corner on a single day last year, and I can’t see him being beaten this year either.

Galgorm’s Neil Kernoghan, who caught the racing bug after acting as mechanic for Sam Wilson, was going well at the recent race school and could take a good place, while Loanends Support champion Rodney Patton is also down to compete.

Stephen Clarke goes in the Pre Injection class, while another lad who went nice and steadily at the race school, Stephen Morrison from Stoneyford is entered. Adam O’Boyle, who has entered his R6, is one of the joint sponsors of the days racing, via Rathkenny Track and Enduro, or RT&E.

The 125GP and SS400 bikes will race together. In the GP class, Kilkeel lad Paul McCartney has been steadily improving, while Antrim lads Ross Patterson and Matthew Hazlett might well provide the best and closest racing of the day. Ballymena’s Elle Forrest is entered on her little 125 Honda.

Angela Kernoghan from Antrim and Portglenone’s Dale Gordon come to the line in the SS400 class, while Craig Gilmore, son of the late Victor Gilmore will be taking part in his first race meeting. Another local man is Ahoghill’s Kirk Dickey.

Killian Quilter, who is due to take part in the Red Bull backed Under My Wing scheme the previous 2 days at the local circuit, is entered in the 125 Production class. He will face Eoin Collins, who stepped off his little Meere Motorcycles sponsored Aprilia at Bishopscourt a couple of weeks ago and Jordan Burrows.

The Supertwins and Stock Twins class is the best subscribed of the day. Trevor Elliott from Ballymoney was well on the pace at Bishopscourt two weeks ago in the test day. He will want to consolidate that, while men like Darren Gilpin, Gary Fowler, father and son duo Alan and Aaron Armstrong and Antrim’s Luke Hazlett are also entered. RT&E rider Keith McQuillan had a slight slip off at Kirkistown two weekends ago, but damage was minimal. He was more worried about his new leathers.

I do know that his bike, which will be ridden by Veronika Hankocyova in the Ulster road race championships, is back to looking its immaculate best.

Sidecars and classics are also catered for. Peter O’Neill, Dylan Lynch and Scobby Killough top the entry in the chairs, while Barry Davidson and Scot Bryan Allan would be the top men in the Classic race.

The Mid Antrim club have asked me to thank Ballymena Borough Council, Rathkenny Track and Enduro and Emerald Road Racing magazine for their help in organising and running the meeting. Practice is due off at 9.30am with racing at 12.30.

KELLS RACES OFF AGAIN

In a statement issued last week the Kells club said that ‘Due to the lack of adequate funding being in place, the Kells road races would now not take place.’

This will be seen as a major blow to road racing, not only in the South, but all over Ireland, as Kells is one of the most popular races of the year.

The cancellation comes hard on the heels of the Bush clubs decision to cancel their race meeting, due to an insurance rise. Kells races were due to move to a new circuit for this year, closer to the town of Kells.

The Kells club were to use a new circuit for this years meeting, and they have vowed to be back for 2014. Hopefully they will.

RED BULL UNDER MY WING

This Thursday and Friday Jonathan Rea and Jeremy McWilliams will be at Nutts Corner to assess youngsters for the Red Bull Under my Wing programme.

Something like 28 youngsters, between 14 and 17, will take part in a series of workshops, with talks on rider technique, bike set up, nutrition and diet, race style and communication skills. The competitors have all been nominated by their various governing bodies, the MCUI, the MRA and YMSA. There are, to be honest, a few I know nothing about, but just a glance down the list and I can see about 14 or 15 that I already know.

I see that Antrim has both Ross Patterson and Adam Simpson taking part. Ross’s dad Alan is a former GP rider and Adam’s elder brother John, a Manx Grand Prix winner. Adam himself is a useful minimoto rider, while Ross has competed regularly across the water.

The lucky winner will get the chance to travel to a round of the World Superbike championship and will also have a chance to a one on one coaching session with Rea later in the year. Should the winner be a MX rider, the prize will be tailored to suit them.

Roy Adams.