Busy Easter of racing in store
On Friday and Saturday the first round of the series is at Bishopscourt, while on Monday, it's off to Kirkistown for the traditional Easter Monday, Belfast & District meeting.
I will have photos and reports on the Bishopscourt meeting, but with the Times' Easter deadlines, unfortunately, I wont be able to include Monday's racing in next week's paper.
The ISB grid has a distinctly International look to it with men like Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald turning out. Add to this Ryan Farquhar, Michael Dunlop, last year's ISB runner up Mark Johnston, Marshal Neill, local men Denver Robb and Gerard Kinghan, Brian McCormack, James Dickson, Michael Pearson and Kirk Jamison.
I have a feeling that there will be quite a few useful riders not even get onto the grid, as qualifying is bound to be hectic.
The ISB races will, for the first time, feature the Superpole system, where the full grid practice. It will then be cut to the fastest 20, and then the fastest 10. After that, in theory, we should be left with our grid.
The 34th running of the Enkalon Trophy race will be the feature race of the weekend, with all the above mentioned riders, plus some more. After splitting from his team, Keith Amor, the current holder of the Enkalon Trophy will be absent, but, with the greatest respect to Keith, I can't see that it will take away from the race itself.
In the 600 Supersport races current champion Glenn Irwin, Ryan Farquhar, Alistair Kirk, Jonny Buckley, Michael Pearson and Kirk Jamison are all due to line out, along with a full grid of other riders.
Lee Hill heads the 650 Supertwins entry, with the Irish Champion facing some stiff opposition from men like Lee Wilson, Ryan Farquhar, Mark Glasgow, Richard McCartney, Darren Gilpin, Emmett O'Grady and Australian Josh Trigwell.
The GP125 races will feature former champion Nigel Percy from Randalstown, Paul Robinson, Cairan Donnelly and Stephen Kelly. Chirstopher English will carry the English Brothers racing flag by himself, as younger brother Robert is on the injured list after his Kirkistown crash.
Barry Davidson, Denver Robb and Trevor Reid will be three local men who will race in the GP250 class. All three will face stiff opposition fro Ronan Shanaghan, Thomas Lawlor, Mark Hanna from Antrim, and Richard Glasgow. Young Glasgow went well last weekend at Bishopscourt, taking a win and a second place from two starts. It would have been two wins, had he not been hit with a 10 second penalty for arriving late into the warm up area.
There is more or less a full grid for the sidecar races. While sidecars might not be everyone's cup of tea, I still think a good sidecar race is fantastic to watch. Current champion Dylan Lynch will have Aaron Galligan as passenger, while the 08 title winner Alex Johnston and Paul Carvill are also entered. John Clark/Stuart Graham are likely winners, but Clark can expect some pressure from a host of English visitors.
A new feature this year will be a 50 bonus for the day's fastest lap in a given class. Each meeting will have one class nominated, and the fastest lap in that class, over two races, will have the bonus awarded.
On Saturday, the bonus will be sponsored by Roskyle Construction, of Killyleagh, while Frank Gibson, also from Killyleagh, will back Easter Monday's. Each class will get a turn at the award, to be done in rotation, and at Bishopscourt, it will be the Supersport 600 riders who will benefit.
On Friday practice gets under way at 9.30am, while there will be a full set of races on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning warm up is due away at 9am, with the feature race of the weekend, the 34th running of the Enkalon Trophy, at 2pm.
On Monday the racing will be compacted into a single day, but I would imagine will feature all the same riders. Practice at Kirkistown should be about 9am, with racing getting under way about 12.30 or so.
NOT MUCH CHEER
There wasn't much to cheer about for the locals when the second round of the World Superbikes went to Portamao last weekend.
In the Superbike races, Jonathon Rea took a third place in the first race, but retired the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda with 15 laps to go in the second race.
Rea was clipped on the first corner by either Carlos Checa or Shakey Byrne, sending him right off the track. He stayed on the bike, and completed the opening lap outside the top ten. Fighting back, he had moved to fourth place, and was challenging third placed Cal Crutchlow when the current World Supersport champion slid off. It gave a fairly untroubled third place to Jonathon.
In race two, he had led for a short time, but just as the bikes started the fifth lap, his Honda engine expired inm a cloud of smoke, leaving the 23 year old an unhappy spectator.
In the Supersport class, Toomebridge man Eugene Laverty didn't fare much better. He was fighting for the lead right from the start with Joan Lascorz and former title holder Kenan Sofouglou, when the local man slid off his Parkalgar Honda.
It was undamaged, and Eugene was quickly back on his feet and back in the race. He fought hard, and managed to salvage 5 valuable points from the race, for 11th place. Those might be the ones that make the difference at the end of the year. The result drops Eugene to third in the table, with 30 points.
The WSB teams head to Valencia, in Spain for their next round, on April 11.