As the Ulster Superbike Championship picked up pace, the clouds parted and the afternoon sun shone on the event.
The sun wasn’t all that shone on Saturday, some of Ireland’s finest motorbike riders displayed a mastery of the machine at an outstanding level.
The first fixture in the Northern Ireland racing season was long awaited and the paddock was bustling, with everyone excited to be back among friends and rivals, ready to compete.
The racing started with a cat and mouse between Junior British Supersport Champion Cameron Dawson and the recently crowned King of the Baggers, Daytona Jeremy McWilliams.
With McWilliams keeping Dawson safe in his wake, safe enough to win the race by a fraction of a second and in his victory highlight the bright talent that is Dawson. McWilliams is one of the toughest acts to follow and Cameron displayed that he is respectfully up for the challenge.
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that Alastair Seeley was going to be the man to beat in round one of the Ulster Superbike Championship and on the day he did not disappoint, he praised his pit team and their accuracy in keeping him on track. Making it clear that he takes little for granted but is serious about his achievements and what they mean to him. He is the epitome of both David and Goliath in one ballsy package as he tackles and tames each machine he takes on, owning the track with a familiarity few can grasp. Riding the IFS Global Logistics Yamaha R1 and R6 there is an obvious bond between man and bike.
Deserving of the title, he won round one of the Supersport by a country mile, crossing the line 26.5 seconds ahead of Christian Elkin, yet was just as happy seated at the front of the much closer chase for round two of the Superbike pro, with Carl Phillips threatening to invade his personal space. Seeley undeterred, blazed onward to another win.
Taking home the Sam McBride Superbike Cup and the Temple 100 Supersport Cup with both lots of prize money he dominated the podium.
In the second round of the Supertwin, there was no knowing who would be McWilliams’ challenger. Then, Banbridge man Ryan Gibson on the Gibson Motors Aprilia 660 appeared and having started 17th on the grid Gibson had soon masterfully manoeuvred his way into second place and into McWilliams’ vapour trails. McWilliams took the win by 1.8 seconds but Gibson showed skill and confidence in his approach to the race and is a rider to watch on a bike that surprises.
Another man with a plan is JMcC Roofing rider Jason Lynn, a now seasoned rider Lynn knows that the steps he is currently taking are ever advancing and positively rewarding. Taking overall second place to Alastair Seeley in the Superbike Pro is a serious position to be in. Lynn, having seamlessly made the move up from Supersport to Superbike and onto the ZX10 Kawasaki.
Paul Demaine from Glenarm held the fort in the pre-injection races on his Yamaha 600cc leading the first two laps of a five lap race over Matt Burns from Belfast on a Downshire Auto Repair 1000cc Yamaha. Burns clinched first place by the third lap but not before Demaine had earned a nod of respect at least for his stamina and style.
Limavady’s Jack Oliver made a last minute decision on the day to enter the lightweight Supersport category, a move that paid off as he walked away with 45 points, as did Kris Duncan. Ross Moore on a Honda 250cc took first place overall in the Moto 3 category with Alexander Roman and Jack Burrows vying for the spot at the top.
Kai McClintock proved that he means business in the supersport 300 class as did Robert O’Neill and Ruben Sherman-Boyd in the moto one. These young men are hot the heels of the more experienced riders and ready to prove themselves on the tarmac at every opportunity.
Daniel Matheson earned himself 50 points on his BMW in the Superbike Cup winning both rounds with Ajay Carey taking the points in the Supersport Cup
In the Classic races Newtownards man Andy Kildea and Comber local Alex Conroy found themselves in the battle of BT23 scooping 45 points each on Honda 750 and Yamaha 750 respectively.
Mark Johnson from Dromara owned the Classic 350 on his Honda winning both rounds and 50 points. With Brian Mateer from Ballyclare taking both rounds of the Classic 250 on his Abbey Tiles Suzuki.
The Temple Motorcycle and Athletic Club wish to extend their gratitude to all those who took part the weekend, thank you and good luck to all the riders and teams in round two of the Ulster Superbike Championship, the club wish them all a safe season of racing.
A huge thank you is also extended to all the club’s members and as always to the volunteer marshals, scrutineers, officials, stewards, medics and everyone in attendance.
The Temple Motorcycle and Athletic Club are delighted to have hosted yet another successful day of first class motorbike racing. Setting the 2022 race season off to a flying start.