Dubliner Thomas O’Grady took a well deserved maiden win in the first of three Dunlop Masters Superbike races at Mondello Park last weekend (July 23rd & 24th). The Dubliner, who had previously come close to victory on so many occasions, then followed up with his second career win in Sunday’s opener, before Derek Sheils lifted the Leinster 200 trophy and took the championship lead with a win in the dramatic final race of the weekend.
A strong field of Superbike riders lined up looking to add their name to the prestigious trophy with only two of the riders on the grid being previous winners, Wicklow’s Sheils and Waterford man Brian McCormack. The two BMW riders had problems in qualifying for race one, which left an unusual front row made up of Kerryman Emmett O’Grady’s TAG Honda, the Yamaha of Ulster youngster Jonny Campbell and Cork’s Ray Casey on another BMW.
Thomas O’Grady lined up fourth and with McCormack’s FHO racing machine in eleventh and the Road House Macau BMW of Sheils in fourteenth, he made the most of his opportunity to race into an immediate lead, which he held until the flag. Having waited so long for his maiden victory O’Grady celebrated the whole way down the finish straight, as he came home two and a half seconds clear of Sheils. Behind him a race long battle raged between Sheils, Cavan’s Alan Kenny, McCormack and Emmett O’Grady who eventually finished in that order. The Superbike Cup class produced the usual Jamie Collins versus Andrew Whearty battle, with Collins taking the verdict while Daniel Matheson finished just behind them in third.
The race two grid, based on lap times in race one, put Thomas O’Grady on pole ahead of Sheils and McCormack. O’Grady got away in the lead once again, followed by Sheils, McCormack and Kenny but by the end of Lap one it was the FHO BMW that was chasing down the leader. McCormack set the fastest lap of the race, as he closed in on O’Grady, but the Dubliner held on to record his second ever win, by less than half a second from McCormack and Sheils.
McCormack’s near lap record pace gave him pole for race three, which would be for the Leinster 200 trophy. The start was delayed due to a downpour but when it did eventually get going it was without the pole sitter. Just as the lights were about to go out McCormack raised his hand to say he had a problem and his bike was pushed from the grid, leaving Sheils and Kenny as the front row starters and giving Thomas O’Grady a clear space in front of him.
O’Grady once again made a good getaway but the difficult wet conditions caught out some riders and the race was stopped to clear the incidents before being re-started. Kenny led from the second start, but dropped back behind Sheils as the rain continued to fall. Thomas O’Grady was unable to repeat his earlier form and sat fourth behind Kenny and Emmett O’Grady. With the race reduced to just four laps and all of the riders pushing hard, Emmett O’Grady was the first to overstep the mark as he crashed at the final corner. O’Grady was up straight away, but with his bike in the middle of the track and visibility poor, the race was stopped and a result declared. Sheils therefore took the win, adding his name to the Leinster 200 for the third time, with Kenny second and Thomas O’Grady third. Daniel Matheson took the Cup win, his second in wet conditions, with Collins second and Seanie Smith third. Andrew Whearty kept his lead in the Cup championship with fourth place having earlier taken the race two win when Collins crashed out.
The July event was the final one before dropped scores are taken into account and when the points were re-calculated it was Sheils who lead the way from Thomas O’Grady and Alan Kenny, with Emmett O’Grady also still in contention. The championship will now be decided over the final two events of the season with all rounds counting.
The Dunlop Supersport championship is even closer than the Superbikes following the first four events. Offaly’s Kevin Keyes on his Daracore Racing Kawasaki may have taken two of the three wins on his return to the series last weekend, but it was race one winner Fermanagh’s Josh Elliott, on the AKR Thomas Bourne Racing Honda who was the biggest mover in the championship standings. Elliott took two second places to go along with his victory and is now up to second in the points behind Emmett O’Grady’s Maxus Yamaha. County Down teenager and Supersport Cup championship leader, A Jay Carey, continued his impressive season with three Cup wins and two appearances on the overall podium, as he consolidated his lead in the newcomers division and still sits third in the overall championship.
Carey’s performances have also left him as the clear leader in the Future Stars Championship, which sees young riders from across all the Masters classes competing for an end of season prize fund, courtesy of DM Groundworks, FJS Plant, Sorcon and the Motorcycle Racing Supporters Club. Carey leads from Dubliner Nathan McGauran, who also sits second in the Principal Insurance Production Twins Championship and Reuben Sherman Boyd, the Junior rider who has dominated the Moto 1 series.
On a weekend which saw five lap records fall, support class hat-tricks went to the Sherman Boyd, Rossi Dobson in Junior Supersport, Derek Sheils in Classic Superbikes, Pre-Injection winner Noel Dunne and Moto 400’s Andrew Murphy. Thomas O’Grady backed up his Superbike double with two wins in Supertwins while Brandon Kavanagh took the opening two Production class victories before Gareth Morrell took his first Production Twins win in the final race. The sidecar honours were shared between the Lynch brothers with Derek taking two wins to Dylan’s one.
The Masters returns on August 27th & 28th on the Mondello Park National Track layout for the penultimate event of the 2022 season.
For information on the July Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship event see HERE.
The Shoot Out
August 27-28 Round 5 – National Track
September 24-25 Round 6 – International Track