After the long summer break East Antrim’s Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea claimed fourth and fifth place finishes in Sunday’s two 10th-round World Superbike championship races at Jerez in Spain, retaining third place in the series with just two rounds to go.
Both races were won by Italian Marco Melandri on the Aprilia, with his team-mate, French rider Sylvain Guintoli, taking two second places.
Series leader and reigning world champion Tom Sykes scored a third in race two after fifth in race one.
After a tough qualifying that saw him start down the grid, Ballyclare man Rea said: “Starting from tenth on the grid really didn’t help me to use the tyre to its full potential and gain lap times at the beginning.
“In the end my pace was really, really strong in both races. We can take a lot of positives but, to be honest, we were chasing our tails a little earlier in the weekend.”
The ex-Larne Grammar pupil will be back in action when the World Superbike championship reconvenes in October for round 11 at the French circuit of Magny-Cours.
Reid back on track
Jordanstown’s Andy Reid (pictured inset) made it two wins on the spin in the British Championships with his weekend victory at Donington Park closing the gap on Superstock leader Kyle Ryde to just three points.
“It’s good to be back on track after a couple of hiccups during the season,” he said.
“The bike wasn’t perfect during qualifying but with a couple of small adjustments before the race it was a great bike.
“I made a good start and was leading when the safety car came out. When it went back in and the race got under way again I was out of the seat at Redgate on the first lap.
“A couple of riders got past me in the incident and I decided to follow them for a couple of laps and size them up before making my move.”
Reid waited until five laps from home before making that move and when he did it was decisive. A new lap record broke the pair and the win was never in doubt.
“I got past Kyle Ryde for second then took the lead from Nick Anderson,” Reid added.
“I pulled a second on them in one lap and broke the lap record on every lap to the finish. My team boss Shaun Muir paid me a great compliment when he told me that, in his opinion, it was the best race I have ridden all year.
“I have now got two more rounds left to secure the title and it would be nice to leave Silverstone, the next round, with a healthy lead going into Brands Hatch to take the pressure off. I would love to go into 2015 as a British champion but, as they say, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
Carrick’s Andrew Irwin qualified the MWR Kawasaki 13th fastest but his race only lasted until lap five when he crashed out of fifth place. “It was a disaster. I had just got into fifth and was pushing to catch the leading group when I lost the front at Melbourne hairpin. I have the speed but I need to stay aboard,” he said..
Irwin wins at Donington
Carrick’s Glenn Irwin snatched a superb victory from Luke Mossey in last Saturday’s Motorpoint British Supersport sprint race thriller with a fantastic move at the Foggy Esses on the penultimate lap.
The two riders fought wheel to wheel throughout the race with Mossey having the edge on his Techcare Profile Triumph. However, Irwin, fresh from his victory in the previous round at Cadwell Park, was refusing to give an inch.
He made the decisive move through the left-right switch of the Esses on the ninth lap and then managed to keep his Gearlink Kawasaki ahead to take his third win of the campaign by just 0.190s.
In Sunday’s race he had to be content with fifth behind the four Triumphs of winner Mossey, Graeme Gowland, Billy McConnell and Luke Stapleford.
Alastair Seeley, on the Mar-Train Yamaha, crashed out of contention at the Old Hairpin with five laps to go. It wasn’t a good weekend for the Carrick rider as he could only finish a disappointing eighth in Saturday’s sprint race.
Hamilton happy with Killalane results
Killalane road races brought the curtain down on the 2014 season and for Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton it was a case of what might have been.
After two runner-up finishes in both the supersport and grand final races, Hamilton said: “I came away from Killalane as the nearly man.”
“I think I proved at Killalane to those that thought I was not fit that I am. I felt great all weekend and I am over the moon to come away from Killalane with a couple of seconds and a third. It was a pity I couldn’t have got a win but unlike my last two visits down south when I went through a hedge at 150mph at last year’s Killalane and my big accident at Skerries this year I can drive home in one piece,” he smiled.
Newly crowned Ulster and Irish 500 classic champion Newtownabbey’s Gary Jamison took second behind Michael Dunlop in Sunday’s Killalane race. “I enjoyed Killalane and to cap it all I had the thrill of leading Michael Dunlop for nearly a lap in the race.”