Laurelbank Motocross Park hosts Championship

Laurelbank Motocross Park, Saintfield recently hosted round six of the Ulster Quad and Sidecar Championships.

By Darryl Armitage
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 2:53 pm

Racers ranged from tiny to tall took to their bikes and sidecars and battled it out for points and prizes and ultimately the title of Ulster champion 2022.

With two rounds left in the championship it was beginning to become clearer who the front runners in each category are and as a result those to watch and to beat.

The Temple Motorcycle and Athletic Club hosted the event at their home track Laurelbank Motocross Park, Saintfield. Contenders filled the paddock from the early hours setting up equipment and machines and priming them for the day ahead.

It was clear wandering through the sea of white vans and heavily branded race lorries that some of Ireland’s most serious contenders were in attendance, and the entourage of fans and friends that accompany them.

The practice laps were a case of trial and error for many as they familiarised themselves with the 
rapid yet grippy course, a surprise shelf drop into one corner and adverse camber out of another kept all contenders on their toes as they established how big an air they could handle over lips and 
jumps, visualising their own personal race line of attack on the day.

What sounded like a swarm of hyperactive bees turned out to be the youngest and coolest contenders known as ‘The Autos’ on their 50cc machines racing away from the start gate.

This Youth One group is being led by six year old Jamie Cowan despite John Joe Malone winning the last three rounds.

Cowan’s skill, attendance and consistency keep him sitting happily at the top of the leader-board with Jenson Gilchrist his closest rival in terms of points.

The Youth Two Class on 80cc/100cc quads are neck and neck after the Laurelbank fixture.

Rory Fadden slid into the number one slot with a total of 342pts leaving Daniel Duddy hot on his heels with 338pts and Dean Owens who was previously leading the group, now in 3rd with 337pts.

This Groups Champion title could go to any of these young riders in a nail biting conclusion to the 
competition.

It is evident the young racers are friends in the paddock, but on the track it’s all business.

In the Youth Three Group, Jack Minnish, Travis Toye and Luke Dillon rotated between first, second and third place throughout.

Finally ending up with an overall win by number 26 Luke Dillon.

With regards to points however Jack Minnish holds the lead with 350pts to Luke Dillon’s 341pts.

Charlie Williamson has 288pts and Travis Toye 286pts.

The 200cc/250cc machines are fast and furious, these racers are serious.

It’s anyone’s title to win at this stage.

When the adult classes took to the track it was another level to watch and to enjoy.

There was skill and agility on full display as bikes drifted through corners emerging from pockets of dust, shifting hips seamlessly from side to side to counteract gravity.

By the afternoon it was bumpy in places with riders gripping their handlebars as they bounced sometimes laterally across the course.

With no spills but plenty of thrills the spectators were enthralled by their dedication and achievement.

The Clubman Quad class was action packed and fast paced. Mark Mulholland dominated on the 
Laurelbank track with an outstanding days racing, winning all three races and pushing up the points table but not enough to overtake the current group leader Dean Young who came in third overall and he maintained a steady lead over Matthew Gilchrist and Mitchell Adams.

Josh McKnight continues to reign in the Semi-Expert Class overall, winning two of the three rounds on the Saintfield track, coming in second to Jack Young in race two but otherwise holding onto a strong lead with 400pts overall to Jack’s 329pts.

Mark McLernon, an unmissable vision in pink and orange flying over the jumps and into the number one spot time and again did not disappoint at Laurelbank.

The running order through all 3 Premier level races was an unchanging scene. McLernon led David Cowan and Dean Dillon, they placed top three throughout the day.

That leaves number 136 Dillon holding on to first place on the leaderboard overall with 355pts, McLernon closing in with 347pts and David Cowan within their reach on 333pts.

The final rounds really will be crucial in deciding a champion of the Premier Class.

The deeper rasping tones of the Sidecar engines are a welcome reprieve for the ears and a feast for 
the eyes as riders brushed centimetres from the ground manoeuvring their weight effortlessly for 
maximum gain.

Coordination, precision timing, and balance essential in holding the track.

It’s going to be tough to catch Sidecar number 5 Neill Campbell/Ross Graham team.

Jonny Wilson and Andrew Rowan are giving it their best shot in Sidecar number 112 with the overall leaderboard reflective of this, only time will tell who will be victorious.

Andy and Adam McKinney, and Gary moulds and Alan Gardiner are up for the challenge as are Jack Shepherd and Louise Houston who are gaining ground, confidence and points with no signs of slowing.

There were breakdowns, gear slips and a few stallers.

Dad’s were called upon to help kids get back in the race, brushing them off and kick starting quads.

It was a family affair for many as adults and youths, parents and children raced back to back and side by side in sidecars and on quads.

It was a successful day for the Temple Club and a great day for the sport.

The Temple Motorcycle and Athletic Club wish to extend their thanks to all in attendance, from spectators to staff, competitors, volunteers, stewards, flag marshalls, club members and the MRA. May Kincaid and the officers and first aid staff, timekeepers, Roy Neill, race sponsors and the press.

The Temple club wishes all competitors safe racing and the best of luck in the remaining rounds of the Ulster Championship.

Photography courtesy of Andrew McKinstrey.

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