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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.