Former Champions star in Principal Insurance Masters at Mondello Park

Derek Sheils and Brian McCormack were the stars as the 2024 Principal Insurance Masters Superbike Championship continued last weekend at Mondello Park (May 18th & 19th). […]

The 2024 Principal Insurance Masters Superbike battle continues at Mondello Park

Mondello Park kicked off the long awaited return of Irish Motorcycle Racing, with a thrilling Principal Insurance Superbike Championship season opener at Mondello Park on April 20th and 21st. […]

Keyes and McLean star, as the Principal Insurance Masters Championship returns

Mondello Park kicked off the long awaited return of Irish Motorcycle Racing, with a thrilling Principal Insurance Superbike Championship season opener at Mondello Park on April 20th and 21st. Watched by a large crowd of spectators eager to get their fix of Motorcycle Racing action after a year away, the newly named Principal Insurance Masters did not disappoint as Offaly’s Kevin Keyes and Derry’s Adam McLean were the stars of show.

Keyes lined up on pole for Superbike race one on Saturday, ahead of double 2022 race winner, Cavan’s Alan Kenny, and former champion Brian McCormack from Waterford. A poor start dropped Keyes back to third early on as McCormack’s BMW took the lead. Reigning Superbike Cup champion Andrew Whearty from Meath briefly ran second but Keyes soon moved his Yamaha past before taking the lead from McCormack. The Waterford man’s Road House Macau BMW began to drop back with tyre issues, allowing Cavan’s Shane Connolly, on his Yamaha, to close in. In the end Connolly ran out of laps and had to settle for third as Keyes taking took the Daracore Racing’s first Superbike win. Ronan Waters was another first time winner as took the Superbike Cup spoils ahead of Seanie Smith and Declan Madden.

Race two, on Sunday, saw Keyes in even more dominant form as he took the lead from the start and came home over three seconds clear of Kenny, who made a much better start than in race one to remain in contention till the end. Supersport Cup rider Declan Madden on his DM Groundworks BMW finished third, and best of the Cup riders, ahead of Antrim’s Sean Brolly, on his Masters Superbike debut, and Daracore Racing’s Kevin Madigan.

Keyes again dominated race three, but on this occasion McCormack pushed him all the way to the final laps before deciding to settle for second ahead of Connolly. Waters again took the cup victory in seventh place overall, ahead of Madden and Madigan, who finished off an excellent weekend for Daracore Racing with another podium. After the opening three rounds Keyes now leads the championship from McCormack and Kenny, while in the Cup standings its Madden ahead of Waters and Madigan.


The Supersport riders endured a testing weekend as their three races were stopped a number of times due to incidents. Adam McLean, on his first visit to Mondello Park since winning the opening race of 2021, took pole position for race one and duly held off Keyes for the first Principal Insurance Supersport victory of the season. McLean’s JMcC Roofing Kawasaki took the victory by over two seconds from the similar machine of Keyes, with Yamaha mounted Dubliner Michael Sweeney taking a well deserved third place. DM Groundworks backed Meath youngster, Jack Whearty, was pushed hard for top spot in the Supersport Cup class by Wexford’s Brandon Kavanagh with Mayo man Michael Gillan third.

McLean was also on pole for the second race and romped unchallenged to his second win of the weekend. Keyes again finished second, but had to work hard for the runner-up spot as he took the first half of the race to work his way past Oisin Maher and Kerry rider Emmet O’Grady. Tipperary youngster Maher also got by his team mate and former champion O’Grady to take an impressive first podium on the AKR Honda. The top two in the Supersport Cup were Whearty and Kavanagh once again, with Cavan’s Keith Richardson taking his maiden podium finish in third.

McLean did not appear for the final Supersport race of the weekend, as he did not want to put more mileage on his Supersport engine prior to next months North West 200, leaving Keyes and Maher as the main battlers. Maher lead for the opening two laps but the more experienced Keyes moved past and then held Maher at bay to the end, taking the win by just under two seconds, from Maher and Sweeney. The top two positions in the Cup were once again filled by Whearty and Kavanagh but this time they had Corkman James Walsh for company on the podium.

The Megabikes Ballymount Supertwins gave Maher another chance at victory and he took the opportunity with both hands taking three wins on his TAG racing VTL Aprilia. Darragh Crean from Kerry, on a one off ride on a Kawasaki, rather than his usual Elcofire Aprilia, took two second places in the opening two races but failed to finish race three. In his absence Clare man Kevin Baker took the runner-up spot with Sean Brolly taking the final step of the podium in all three races on his series debut.

The DM Groundworks Junior Supersport and Moto1 grid was largely made up of new faces, as the latest crop of future stars got their first taste of race action. The podium places went to a mixture of newcomers and returning riders as 2022 Moto1 champion Reuben Sherman-Boyd took two wins in Junior Supersport, with newcomer Rhys Gates taking the other. The remaining podium positions were taken by Masters novices, Joey Milliken and Alanna Maher. In Moto1 it was newcomers all the way as Fionn Stephens, with two wins, and Fionn O’Connell, with one, shared the top two spots between them, while Joey Hennesy and Buster Sherman-Boyd also made the podium over the weekend.

After an incredibly successful return the Principal Insurance Masters Championship is now preparing for its second event of the season, with the championship returning to Mondello Park on May 18th and 19th. All the information on the opening event and the remaining dates for 2024 can be found on www.masterssuperbike.ie where livestream footage from the exciting first weekend can also by watched.




ROUNDS 1-3 RESULTS LIVESTREAM COVERAGE

Megabikes expand Masters Championship involvement with Twins class sponsorship


The returning Principal Insurance Masters Superbike Championship is delighted to announce that it will continue to be supported through 2024, by Motorcycle and Clothing Superstore, Megabikes Ballymount.

The industry leading retailer will expand its involvement in Ireland’s biggest Motorcycle Racing championship, by becoming the title sponsor of the Twins classes. The new backing will be in tandem with Megabikes continued sponsorship of the large TV screens, which will be used to bring the event livestream to spectators at three of the six 2024 Masters events. Megabikes will also continue in their position as official Air Protection partners for the Masters series

Megabikes operate from two outlets, the largest being thier Superstore in Ballymount, Dublin, which operates alongside their city centre store in Wexford Street. Megabikes provide a comprehensive offering to motorcyclists through sales of new motorcycles, workshop services and a comprehensive stock of used bikes. The Ballymount store also offers a huge range of clothing and protective equipment brands and Megabikes Masters Championship involvement will focus on the promotion of their Air Protection ranges, through their Alpinestars and Helite brands.

For 2024 both the Supertwin and Production Twin categories at the Masters will benefit from Megabikes support. The Twins classes, and particularly the Supertwins division, are a perfect fit for Megabikes who are the importers of one of the most successful machines on the grid, the Aprilia RS660. The two championships, for twin cylinder machines, have developed into the biggest support classes for the headline Superbike and Supersport races, with the Production class being particularly popular with newcomers, who use it as an introduction to racing before moving on to the faster Supertwin machines.

Speaking on the announcement of Megabikes increased backing of the Masters, Megabikes owner Ciaran Hayes said “Megabikes are delighted to once again be involved with the Masters for 2024. Megabikes have been involved in sponsorship of Irish motorcycling since our instigation in 2001 and we are really happy to be able to keep supporting Irish racing and Irish racers, both at home and abroad. We are looking forward to the 2024 season and would like to wish everyone a safe and successful year.”

Masters championship manager Fergus Brennan also express his gratitude to Megabikes for their continued support, saying, “We are very grateful to have had the support of Megabikes for most of the lifetime of the Masters Championship. Having previously backed the Young Racer award and a number of different aspects of the series, we are very happy to have them expand this year to their biggest involvement yet. We are looking forward to working with Megabikes over the coming year and particularly to their assistance in expanding the use of Air Protection products to as many of our competitors as we can.”

The 2024 Masters Superbike Championship will run over six race weekends between April and September. The Megabikes Twins classes will contest three rounds of their championship at each event, with two of those rounds taking place on Sunday’s main race day. At the final three events of the season, in July, August and September, Sunday spectators will have the added attraction of being able to follow the racing not only live but on the Megabikes big screen, which will broadcast the same footage as shown on the event livestream.

The opening rounds of the 2024 Megabikes Twins Championship will take place on April 20th and 21st at Mondello Park, as part of the Principal Insurance backed Masters Superbike Championship. For more information on the Masters Championship see www.masterssuperbike.ie or follow the series on social media.

Daracore expand their involvement in the Masters Superbike Championship


As the 2024 Principal Insurance Masters Superbike Championship got underway with pre-season testing on March 23rd & 24th, Kildare based Builders Work Solutions providers, Daracore, announced an expanded involvement with the returning championship.

The specialist construction company confirmed that they will remain as a sponsor of the championship for a fourth season, as they continue to expand their brand in both Ireland and the UK. Daracore will also return to the championship as a race team, with an increased three bike line-up and a new young rider academy.

Daracore is one of the UK and Ireland’s leading concrete cutting, drilling and demolition specialists operating out of Irish depots in Kildare and Cork and UK locations in Hatfield and Luton. Having previously backed Irish racers competing in the Masters and at the British Superbike Championship, as well as their championship sponsorship, the Rathangan based company will continue to use their involvement with the Masters to grow their brand, as well as entertaining clients and staff at Masters events.


In tandem with their Masters sponsorship, the Daracore Racing team will run 2021 Masters Supersport champion Kevin Keyes, alongside former Pre-Injection and Classic Superbike front runner Kevin Madigan. Keyes will campaign Superbike and Supersport machinery at the Masters as well as making his North West 200 and Isle of Man TT debuts for the team. Madigan will return to the Superbike Cup class where he will be looking to build on the maiden podium placing he achieved at the end of 2022.

The team will also take a young racer under their wing for 2024 as the first Daracore Racing Academy rider. Fourteen year old Cork youngster Fionn O’Connell will be part of the team at all Masters events as he takes his first steps in the Junior Supersport category. The team will provide him with technical assistance and guidance while Kevin Keyes will act as rider coach to the teenager.

Speaking of their return to the Masters Championship, Daracore’s Keith Farrell said “Following the insurance related cancellation of the 2023 Irish season we transferred to racing in the UK where we had great success with Kevin Keyes. We’re delighted to now be back racing at home in the Masters and we are looking forward to challenging for the Superbike and Supersport titles as well as the Superbike Cup. It’s also really exciting to be up and running with our new rider academy where we are kicking off 2024 with Fionn O’Connell as our chosen rider and hope to expand the initiative in future years. We’re also looking forward to being able to bring guests to the Masters events once again, to share in what we expect will be a very successful season.”

Championship manager Fergus Brennan welcomed the return of Daracore saying “We are delighted to have Daracore continue their involvement in the Masters for 2024. It would have been understandable if Keith and his team had decided to continue to race in the UK after our year off in 2023, but once again they have stuck with us and even expanded their involvement. The professionalism of the team and the Daracore organisation makes them a valuable addition to our championship and we look forward to working with them once again.”

The Masters Superbike Championship kicks off with the opening three races at Mondello Park on April 20th and 21st. To follow Daracore Racing’s progress in the Masters Championship see www.masterssuperbike.ie, or follow the series and Daracore’s social media channels.

Principal Insurance announced as Masters Superbike Championship title sponsor

The Masters Superbike Championship is delighted to announce the expansion of its partnership with Motorcycle Insurance specialists Principal Insurance, part of Howden, who are set to be the new title sponsors of the series.

A multi-year deal between Mondello Park and Principal Insurance will see the championship operate under a new title as it becomes the Principal Insurance Masters Superbike Championship.

The Masters Championship achieved its biggest ever audience engagement towards the end of 2022 as the series reached a thrilling climax with the headline Superbike class being decided on the last corner of the last lap of the season. The championship, with the help of Principal Insurance, aim to continue that growth as Irish Motorcycle Racing recovers from its enforced 2023 lay-off.

Principal Insurance have been a mainstay of the Irish Motorcycle Insurance market since 2015, providing Irish motorcyclists, drivers, and homeowners with great value personal lines insurance but as part of Howden they have the opportunity to deliver additional insurance services to the market.

Speaking on the announcement of their increased involvement with the Masters Championship Aly Dixon, CEO of Principal Insurance, part of Howden said, “Following our longstanding association with motorbike racing, we are delighted to come onboard as the official title sponsor of the Masters Superbike Championship at Mondello Park this year. This sponsorship reflects our shared passion and our dedication to supporting the motorcycling community and being able to provide tailored insurance for motorcyclists.”

Robert Kennedy, CEO of Howden also said, “We are thrilled to support Principal Insurance, as the official partner of the Masters Superbike Championship. This partnership reinforces our commitment to the motorcycling community and beyond, bringing immense excitement and opportunity for the Howden brand in continuing our path to become the local broker of choice for client’s insurance and financial needs.”

The Masters Superbike Championship will run over seven weekends during 2024 with all events taking place at Mondello Park in County Kildare. The schedule begins with a pre-season test weekend in March followed by the opening race weekend on April 20th and 21st. The remaining race events will run, one per month, between April and September.

All Masters events will run under the Principal Insurance Masters title as will the main Superbike class. The Supersport championship will have the backing of Principal Insurance, part of Howden who be making their first foray into Motorcycle Racing sponsorship in Ireland. As part of their increased involvement in the championship Principal Insurance will contribute greatly to the promotion of the series and will run a number of customer promotional activities around the Masters events.

With a new title sponsor on board the Principal Insurance Masters Superbike Championship will be back with a bang on April 20th and 21st. tickets will be available from the Masters championship web site closer to the events and fans of the series can keep up to date with the championship build up on the championships social media channels.

The Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship gets ready for 2024

Following a year without Motorcycle Racing as part of the sporting calendar, Mondello Park and Motorcycling Ireland are delighted to announce the return of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship for 2024.

Ireland’s premier motorcycle racing series last ran in 2022, when it had its most successful season to date, with increased entries, record crowds and the closest finish ever witnessed in an Irish Superbike Championship. 2023 should have been the year for the series to build on this success, but due to insurance issues that opportunity has had to wait until 2024.

The series promoters, Mondello Park, remained prepared for the restart of racing throughout last year and consequently are primed to take up where they left off, with a repeat of the 2022 championship format. A seven weekend calendar is planned, beginning with the official championship test weekend in late March. The riders will then compete over six two-day events, one per month from April to September.

The return of Irish Motorcycle Racing has taken a lot of work behind the scenes by the new Motorcycling Ireland management committee and Mondello Park are grateful to them for all of their efforts. The recommencement of the sport will come at a cost however as the price of insurance cover has increased dramatically. A fund raising campaign is planned by Motorcycling Ireland, with the support of Mondello Park, with the aim of lessening the burden on competitors.

Further information regarding the 2024 Dunlop Masters will be communicated to competitors over the coming days and information will be available through the championships’ web site and social channels over the coming weeks.

Masters Superbike Championship wins Race of the Year award

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Sheils and O’Grady went into the season finale separted by just four points with Shiels in the lead. In order to win Thomas had to overcome both Josh Elliott and Derek and it took him three attempts before he finally sealed the win at the latest possible moment.

The championship promoters are delighted with the recognition that the series received at the awards but the real credit must go to all of the competitors who made it such an incredible season and particularly to Thomas O’Grady our 2023 champion.

Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship produces incredible finish

The finale of the 2022 Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship could not have been more tense as the title Shoot Out went to the last corner, of the last lap, of the final race of the season. In an incredible finish, Thomas O’Grady pulled off the overtake of the season to change the destiny of the title in the final seconds of the season and become Dunlop Masters Superbike Champion for the first time.

Dubliner O’Grady on his Clear Energy Yamaha entered the final three races of the year with a tiny three point advantage over former champion Derek Sheils on the Roadhouse Macau BMW. Third placed Alan Kenny was an outside bet for the title on his R1 but the Cavan man would have needed both of his rivals to fail to finish at least one race to give him any real hope.

The first race of three began with O’Grady leading from Sheils and Kenny with AKR Thomas Bourne Racing’s Josh Elliott on the move towards the leaders following a slow start. Heading out onto the International loop on lap two, Sheils got up the inside of O’Grady to take the lead as Elliott moved past Kenny. The leaders stayed nose to tail for the next three laps before O’Grady pounced at Maxus corner at the start of lap five to retake the advantage. Over the closing laps a three way fight developed, as Kenny faded away in fourth, leaving O’Grady to take the win from Sheils and Elliott with the top three separated by a quarter of a second at the flag.

Saturday’s win meant that O’Grady took an eight point lead into Sunday’s second race but he soon found himself wishing he had more points in hand as he dropped back to fourth behind the Yamaha of Kenny. Up front Sheils and Elliott were swapping the lead and by the time O’Grady got past Kenny and into his stride he was too far back to close the gap, especially when the top two were busy breaking the lap record on consecutive laps. At the flag it was Sheils who took the win by less than half a second from new lap record holder Elliott, with O’Grady two seconds behind in third. Kenny finished fourth to end his challenge for top spot but the Cavan man had done enough to secure third in the standings. Sheils victory gave him a championship lead of a single point to take the title chase to the final race of the season for the first time in the series history.

The last race had the large Mondello Park attendance on the edges of their seats from the start, as they knew that whoever finished ahead, Sheils or O’Grady, would be champion. O’Grady got a great start from the second row of the grid and almost got by Sheils as Elliott led out of Maxus corner. The top three then circulated within millimetres of each other for the first five laps with their pace once again challenging the lap record.

With less than three laps left O’Grady made his move past Elliott under braking for Turn 7A and having had success there tried the same on Sheils the next time around. This time his rival fought back at 7B to retake the lead leaving O’Grady still needing to find a way to get ahead. On the final time through 7A and 7B the Dubliner tried once more, but his Wicklow rival once again re took the place, leading the commentators to surmise that the battle for the championship was over. O’Grady however had other ideas and stuck close to Sheils through paddock bend and up to Southside Motor Factors corner for the final time. Despite Sheils defending, O’Grady somehow found the room to stick his Yamaha on the inside of the BMW and emerged ahead to win the race and the championship on the run to the flag.

On the podium O’Grady was emotional as he thanked all of his team for the work they had put in over the past few seasons, while Sheils was extremely gracious in defeat, as he commended Thomas for the way he had won the race and said that the 2022 Masters had been one of the most enjoyable championship battles he had been involved in throughout his career. O’Grady and Sheils were joined for the podium celebrations by Elliott who, wary of getting too involved in the championship battle, was happy to take third place in the final race following a photo finish with Sheils.

The Superbike Cup battle was effectively ended when series leader Jamie Collins crashed out of Saturday’s first race. His non-finish meant that Andrew Whearty did not have to beat him in the remaining races to win the title, so the Meath resident simply followed the Corkman home in the final two encounters to take the championship.

Earlier in the weekend Elliott had secured the Supersport crown for AKR Thomas Bourne Racing, despite having missed the first two championship events. The brand new team were understandably delighted to finish their maiden season with a Supersport championship victory to go with their new Superbike lap record. Kerry based Jack O’Grady won the Supersport Cup title, but not without a fight, as Wicklow’s Dean Lacey won all three races to close the gap down to just four points at the end.

The Superbike Champion, Thomas O’Grady, had also collected another championship title earlier on Sunday as he took home the Principal Insurance Supertwin crown on his NWR Aprilia. Brian McCormack took all three Supertwin wins on his Global Robots Aprilia ahead of impressive class newcomer and Masters Championship sponsor, Darragh Crean, on his Nedar Heat machine. Crean’s impressive performances gave him the Supertwin championship runner up spot.

In the DM Groundworks and FJS Plant Junior races, Moto 1 champion Reuben Sherman Boyd wrapped up his season with his 100% win record intact as he took three more race wins. Rossi Dobson took the Junior Supersport category despite breaking his arm on Saturday and failing to score a point in the last two races. In the end Dobson took the title from Jack Whearty by eleven points, exactly the amount he had scored in Saturday’s first encounter.

Other riders to become champions were Pre-Injection class winners Noel Dunne Jnr. and Kenneth O’Gorman, Moto 400 stalwart Damien Horgan, first time Classic Superbike Champion Alan Tierney and Sidecar winners Dylan Lynch and Aaron Galligan.

One of the more impressive title winners was teenager Nathan McGouran who made a return to the Principal Insurance Production Twin class following a two year break. The Dublin youngster took that title and also added the Future Stars championship, for riders aged twenty or under, to pick up the €3,000 top prize provided by DM Groundworks, FJS, Sorcon and the Motorcycle Racers Supporters Club. Despite not competing at the final two events, due to injury, A Jay Carey took the second place prize of €1,500 with Reuben Sherman Boyd taking third and €500.

For all the Shoot Out information see HERE.

Quality Superbike field to line up for Dunlop Masters Shoot Out

This weekend, September 24th & 25th, the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship Shoot Out will reach its exciting climax as the final three races of the 2022 season are contested on the full Mondello Park International Track. Following Richie Ryan’s domination of the title since 2017, the series is guaranteed a change of name on the trophy as Thomas O’Grady, Derek Sheils, Alan Kenny and Emmett O’Grady are set to battle it out for the top spot at the head of a quality Superbike grid.

O’Grady on the Clear Energy Yamaha R1 heads the series following his breakthrough to the winners circle earlier this year. Having finished second on a number of occasions the Dubliner made the step up to the top spot of the podium in August and now has three wins to his name and leads the series by three points. Second in the standings is double championship winner Derek Sheils. The Wicklow rider took the title in 2013 and 2015 and is looking to be the first non Yamaha rider to win the championship since his last victory. Riding his Roadhouse Macau BMW, Sheils will also be aiming to become the first rider to win a Masters Superbike title on one of the German machines.

With a wealth of experience across a number of classes, but having never previously committed to a complete Superbike season, Alan Kenny came into 2022 aiming to use this year to build up to a full assault on the 2023 series. The Cavan man soon found himself in the thick of the championship battle as a maiden win at round four was followed by another at round six to leave him right in contention as we head for the final event. The last rider with a mathematical chance of victory was also a first time Superbike winner during 2022. Kerryman Emmett O’Grady on the TAG Honda took his first win at round nine and remains an outside bet for the series as he would require all three riders ahead of him to run into issues.

The battle for race wins this weekend will be event hotter than the championship fight as a number of riders who are not in championship contention have been added to the grid. Former BSB race winner Josh Elliott joined the Superbike class for the first time in August and is already a Race Winner with his AKR Thomas Bourne Racing Honda. For the final event he will have even more opposition who have British Championship experience as former Masters Supersport Champion Kevin Keyes joins the Superbike grid on a Daracore Racing Yamaha. Also adding his name into the mix will be 2012 Superbike and Supersport champion Brian McCormack who makes his second appearance of the season on his FHO Racing BMW.

The top two in the Superbike ‘Cup’ class for less experienced riders have produced the fastest and most competitive Cup class races ever seen at the Masters. Points leader Jamie Collins on his Suzuki and BMW mounted Andrew Whearty have battled all season for the top spot and have broken the ‘Cup’ lap record a number of times in the fight for supremacy. The pace has been so hot that the top two have regularly raced with the front running Pro riders and apart from third placed Daniel Matheson have been well clear of their Cup rivals as they have raced to six wins each. Collins has a nine point advantage over Whearty with Matheson who, despite taking two victories, is fifty points of the top spot in third.

The headline Superbike class will build to the championship climax over Saturday and Sunday with the championship decider scheduled as the last race of the weekend. Qualifying will run on Saturday morning with race one later that afternoon. Races two and three will run on Sunday and will be broadcast live on the championships’ Maxus and Harris Group sponsored livestream. Spectators at the venue will be able to follow all of the action from around the full International Track as the livestream will also be shown on the Megabikes Superstore Ballymount big screen in front of the main straight Grandstand.

For all the Shoot Out information see HERE.