Maurice Montgomery’s weekly look at how East Antrim riders are faring at home and around the world.
Sunday’s two penultimate-round World Superbike championship races at Magny-Cours in France saw East Antrim’s Jonathan Rea slip to fourth in the championship after he took third in race one and crashed out of race two.
Starting from the front row of the grid for race one, the Ballyclare rider took an early lead but found it difficult to get the power of his Pata Honda down to the slippery Magny-Cours track and dropped behind eventual race winner Sylvain Guintoli and second-placed Marco Melandri.
Guintoli and Melandri swapped places in race two with Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam completing the rostrum after the local rider slipped off.
Speaking after the 11th-round races, the former Larne Grammar pupil said: “It’s been a day of two halves really. Race one went OK although I really struggled with the power character in the wet today.
“It seems like Magny-Cours has just got really slippery in recent years and today’s conditions really highlighted that problem. It was satisfying to get on the podium but I wanted to give a little bit more to try and win.
“So for race two my team gave me some good changes but we didn’t quite solve the problem. I was still struggling in some areas but I was able to get to the front and this time just stay in a really good rhythm.
“Unfortunately, from the data we can see that, in turn five and six, I went through on a closed throttle as opposed to partially opened, and that was enough to have the engine braking kick in and bring the rear round. It came round so fast, I had no chance to save it and it’s frustrating to get my first DNF of the year.”
He added: “I crashed at the front trying to win the race so I can’t be too hard on myself ”.
The World Superbike championship resumes at the Losail circuit in Qatar on November 2 for the final round of the series.
Birthday win for Seeley
Carrick’s Alastair Seeley celebrated his 35th birthday in style by winning Saturday’s sprint race in the British Supersport Championship at Silverstone. More importantly, the ‘Wee Wizard’ reduced the points gap between himself and series leader Billy McConnell with three races to go.
“We pulled it out of the bag in qualifying to get on the front row and I knew once the race started that I was comfortable running my own pace in the tricky conditions,” he said.
“I knew I would have to deal with (Glenn) Irwin and he’s riding well, but the idea was to get away on my own as I knew I would be comfortable at the front.
“I could see his shadow and he made a few lunges, but once I was on my own I just kept my focus and that’s win number seven this season.”
Fellow Carrick rider Irwin was with Seeley all the way until a technical problem forced him out of the race in the closing stages.
“After qualifying fastest for the race I was gutted to be sidelined by a machine problem, but that’s racing,” said Irwin.
Sunday’s feature race was a different story for Irwin as he took a brilliant win for his Gearlink Kawasaki team with Seeley fourth.
The local man took the lead on the opening lap after a poor start by his standards and apart from a couple of brief times during the race he was always at the front, winning by 0.330 seconds from Luke Stapleford and Luke Mossey.
It was a brilliant race with less than a second covering the top four at the flag. A delighted Irwin explained: “I wasn’t feeling too well before the start but when I got going I put it to the back of my mind and got on with the job in hand.
“I am usually a good starter but I didn’t this time and had to bide my time on the opening lap to get past Alastair Seeley on the brakes into Stowe. Once that was out of the way I put the hammer down. Both Stapleford and Mossey did pass me during the race but I immediately re-passed them and controlled things at the front.
“I am over the moon. It makes up for the disappointment of Saturday. All credit to the team for giving me a great bike today.”
“I had no edge grip today,” Seeley said after Sunday’s race. “I was able to run with them but really I was just sitting there unable to make a move. Pretty frustrating but I did manage to beat my main rivals in the championship and going into the last round at Brands I am 34 points behind McConnell with 50 up for grabs.
“Thirty-four is my race number so here’s hoping it is a good omen. Racing is a funny thing, you never know what might happen.”
Podium place for Andrew Irwin
It was a day to remember for Carrick’s Andrew Irwin as he brought the MWR Kawasaki home in second place in Sunday’s Pirelli Superstock 600 championship race at Silverstone.
“It is good to be back on the rostrum and hopefully it carries on to Brands in a couple of weeks time,” he said.
Reid still eyes title
Jordanstown’s Andy Reid went to Silverstone a couple of points behind Kyle Ryde with the hope of leaving ahead of the pack but it wasn’t to be for the FFX Yamaha star.
Kyle Ryde had taken the early lead, running just ahead of Reid. It was a great battle between the duo until Reid lost the front at the fast left before ‘Village’, crashing out of contention on the seventh lap.
It didn’t look good for his title chances but there was a final twist to come as Ryde, and his team-mate Ross Twyman, ran out of fuel in the closing stages of the race.
In the final race at Brands Hatch (October 19) it will be winner takes all. Four points cover Collier, Ryde and Reid. It sh1o