Ryan takes one step closer to Dunlop Masters Superbike glory
Kilkenny’s Richie Ryan dominated the Superbike top step at Rounds thirteen fourteen and fifteen of the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship on the Mondello Park National Track on August 4th & 5th. The Yamaha R1 rider moved a step closer to retaining his Superbike crown with a hat-trick of wins making it eleven victories in a row.
In Supersport, the championship pendulum swung towards Antrim’s Dean McMaster, who bounced back from two events where he lost some of his championship advantage, to take three wins over nearest rival, Tralee’s Emmet O’Grady.
Superbike qualifying saw a return to pole position for BMW mounted Luke Johnston, but the Ballymena man once again struggled to get his bike off the line in Saturday’s race one, leaving Ryan and the BMW of Waterford’s Peter Moloney to beat him into the first corner. Over the twelve laps Ryan remained unchallenged at the head of the field with Moloney taking second and Johnston regrouping after his poor start to take third. Jamie O’Keefe from Waterford took the Superbike Cup honours with Tipperary’s Michael Prendergast second and series leader Gary O’Brien from Limerick third.
The second race followed a similar pattern to the first with Ryan and Moloney first and second throughout and Johnston a few seconds adrift, having again failed to get away strongly. The Cup class also ended with the same top two, O’Keefe and Prendergast, but O’Brien lost the final podium place to Belfast’s Chris Campbell in the closing stages.
Race three would prove to be the toughest of the weekend for Ryan as he was beaten away from the start by Moloney. By the end of lap two the Yamaha R1 was back ahead of the BMW and began to open a lead, but in the closing stages Moloney closed back in and took the battle right to the flag. Ryan ran wide at the final turn but Moloney was unable to capitalise as he lost out yet again by just over a tenth of a second. Third place went to James Kelly from Mullingar who continued his progress to finally mix it with the front runners. Kelly with his Suzuki, swapped places all race with Luke Johnston before eventually securing the place on the final lap. Chris Campbell took his now customary race three cup win from Prendergast and Gary O’Brien.
Dean McMaster had struggled to match the Supersport pace of Emmett O’Grady for the last two events, but was back with a bang this time around as he took his first ever hat-trick of wins. O’Grady started badly in all three races and by the time he worked his way back to second, McMaster was too far gone to catch. Cork’s Raymond Casey made a return to the championship following an early season injury and took third in race one. Cup champion elect Keelim Ryan took the final step of the podium in the other two races, along with the Cup victory, ahead of Kevin Baker, with Thomas Maxwell, Eoin Collins and Kieran Moore each taking a single third place each.
The Masters will be back at Mondello Park in three weeks time, on August 25th & 26th, for its penultimate event, which will bring the riders back onto the International Track.