Carrick rider Glenn Irwin did the double in both the supersport and supertwin races at Saturday’s Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt.
When the lights changed to green in the Sunflower Trophy race it was Irwin who took an immediate lead on the 600 Gearlink Kawasaki, but it only lasted until the exit of the final chicane on the opening lap.
He lost the front and down he and his chances of taking the Trophy went in a cloud of dust. “I had to go for it if I was to have any chance of winning. Unfortunately the left hand side of the tyre was not up to temperature and it gave way. No one can say I didn’t try,” explained Irwin.
The race was red flagged and rerun over ten laps and it was Irwin’s team-mate Ben Wilson who led the pack on the opening lap, but it wasn’t long before English visitor Danny Buchan hit the front, diving under Wilson at the right hander after the final chicane on lap four and then stretching his winning margin to over six seconds by the chequered flag, adding his name to the winners of the famous Sunflower Trophy.
Third home was Jordanstown’s Andy Reid, who was having his first ever ride on the Milwaukee Yamaha ridden by Josh Brookes in the British Superbike series.
Reid said: “It came to Bishopscourt as Josh had left it after Brands Hatch and it was stiff. I only made a few adjustments to it on Saturday morning to get the suspension softened a bit and it helped a lot.
“It was a completely new experience for me but great fun at the same time. The bike is unbelievable. In the race I was trying too hard in the early stages but when I relaxed and got into a rhythm it was a lot easier. I actually set my fastest lap on my final lap. Really enjoyed it and thanks to Milwaukee Power Tools, Shaun Muir, and the SMR guys for making it all happen.”
Carrick’s Alastair Seeley was the first supersport machine home in fifth behind South African visitor James Egan on the MWR Kawasaki. The local rider nearly didn’t make the grid after his Mar-Train Yamaha developed an engine noise before the start and he had to switch to the spare Dean Harrison bike.
Seeley said: “It just wasn’t set up for me. The foot rests, handle bars and the clutch were not right and I wasn’t comfortable on the bike. It showed in my performance.”
Jamie Hamilton brought the Wilson Craig Honda home in sixth ahead of Ballyrobert’s Nikki Coates.
In the other two superbike races it was Buchan again who took comfortable wins. In the opening race he finished well clear of Ben Wilson with Nico Mawhinney third.
Andy Reid had been in contention before sliding off in the early stages. “I braked hard into the corner and the rear wheel lifted. By the time I got it down I had ran out of track and I was on the grass for a soft landing and no damage done,” smiled Reid.
In the second superbike race it was again Buchan with Wilson and Reid completing the top three. In both races Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton was fifth and sixth respectively.
“I was happy with the superbike results. I like riding the superbike and with the Macau GP coming up I used the Sunflower as a build up to the event riding well within myself and not doing anything silly. Not bad for a road racer,” said Hamilton.
Delighted race winner Buchan said afterwards: “I feel privileged to add my name on the Sunflower Trophy along such names as Joey Dunlop, Michael Laverty and Jonathan Rea.
“The Irish fans were great today and to take away three wins for Tsingtao Racing Kawasaki on my last weekend racing on the bike is the icing on the cake. Thanks to everyone who made both my championship possible and to everyone for giving me great support today at the Sunflower.”
In the two supersport races, Glenn Irwin had no equals, winning both races. The Gearlink Kawasaki rider beat big rival Alastair Seeley by nearly two seconds with Ben Wilson holding off Nikki Coates for third. His brother Andrew brought the MWR Kawasaki home in seventh.
In the second he took the win from team-mate Ben Wilson with Seeley third and Coates again fourth. Coates reckoned he could have made the rostrum in race two. “I was dicing with Alastair and was sitting with him hoping he would drag us both to the front two but Jamie Patterson past me and slowed us both down letting Alastair get away. Still on an EVO bike I was happy enough with the results”
Glenn added both supertwin races to his tally on the day breaking the lap record to add the icing to the cake.
How did Glenn sum up his day at the Sunflower?
“It was good to win four races but I really wanted my name on the Sunflower Trophy. I had to go with Danny in the Sunflower but I got caught out with a cold left side to the tyre.
“It was good to win the supersport races as that was what the team were concentrating on but I was lucky in race two as the clutch was slipping from the start. I was really trying in the supertwin races and got the lap record in race one on Robbie Sylvester’s Kawasaki,” said Irwin.
The Carrick rider signed for 2015 with Gearlink Kawasaki again at Bishopscourt for another shot at the British Supersport title.
“I had offers for world supersport and British Superbike but I want to consolidate this years efforts into next year and really go for the championship in 2015. I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“I have never had much luck at the Sunflower and it looks like it is continuing again this time,” said Seeley after the Sunflower race.
He added: “There were some riders out there who wanted it at all costs, but it’s an end of season show and I didn’t want to finish my association with Mar-Train by giving them a broken bike and end up having breakfast in hospital!
“I’m delighted the fans turned out despite the cold conditions and well done to Danny Buchan for winning the Sunflower race – he’s a big talent. Thanks to everyone at Mar-Train for a great season”
In the 125/250 production class Newtownabbey’s Aaron Wright completed his championship winning season with another two victories.
CAREER BEST FOR LAVERTY IN
The MotoGP race at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix was won by MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez in the scorching afternoon heat at Sepang, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo completing the podium.
2014 World Champion Marc Marquez won his 12th race of the 2014 season and secured Honda’s fourth consecutive Constructors Title.
The world champion said afterwards: “This was one of the toughest races of the year for me physically and I’m happy to have equalled Mick Doohan’s record.”
Ulster’s Michael Laverty brought the Aprilia ART-powered PBM home to a career best 12th in the Malaysian GP and a delighted Laverty said: “That’s points two weekends in a row!
“Thanks to a great job by all the team. I crashed my preferred bike in FP3 putting us on the back foot throughout Qualifying and morning warm up but the boys had my number one bike back to its best for the race.
“I didn’t have the grip in the early laps to go with Petrucci but I was able to keep my pace consistent throughout and caught back up to him and gapped Di Meglio.
“It was possibly the toughest race I’ve ever done due to the heat and humidity so I feel an extra satisfaction that I managed to secure my best MotoGP finish to date.”