Irwin hits the heights

Charley Irwin starred at Belfast Arenacross.
Charley Irwin starred at Belfast Arenacross.

Ballyclare’s Charley Irwin was the toast of the SSE Arena at the weekend as he raced his Discount Beds KTM to two brilliant podiums in the 65cc class over two nights of spectacular racing in rounds four and five of the 2017 Arenacross championship.

The nine year-old Fairview Primary pupil opened his account on Friday when he finished second in race one and then in the main event took a superb third.

Qualifying saw the local boy record the second fastest time that set him up well for his two races.

His first encounter of the Belfast track in race action saw him take a well deserved second behind Ashton Boughen on the RFX KTM then in the main event on Friday evening in front of thousands of arenacross fans Charley dug deep to finish on the rostrum, his second of the series but his first in Belfast in front of a full house.

He struggled at the start taking the first turn down in sixth place but rode his way into a podium place by lap five of the seven lap race and closed fast on second place rider Jake Davies.

A collision with a trackside bale on the penultimate lap ruined his chances of a second place but with less than a bikes length separating Davies and Irwin at the chequered flag it was a job well done.

“I made a terrible start getting the front wheel in the air leaving the gate and I had a lot of work to do to get back on Jake’s tail. Unfortunately I clipped the bale just when I was in sight of a move for second but I’m still delighted to be on the podium,” said Charley.

To say he saved the best to last would be an understatement as the Ballyclare ace had the crowd on their feet as they cheered him home to a magnificent second place in the main 65cc race.

Following on from a disappointing fourth in the afternoon race where he made an awful start the youngster made a brilliant start to Saturday evening’s six lap main race.

Lying second from the gate eventual race winner Ashton Boughen passed him on the opening lap leaving Charley to scrap with Ben Mustoe for second.

Mustoe held the advantage until two laps from home when Irwin made his move at the end of the ‘whoops’ squeezing up the inside of his English rival at the right hander.

The hero of the night set the fastest lap of the race on his final lap as he held off Mustoe for second.

Charley who now lies fourth in the championship with two rounds left was delighted.

“I am over the moon. To achieve this in front of my home fans, family and friends is awesome. I could hear the crowd cheering me on as I raced with Jake. It’s a dream come true. Thanks to everyone,” he said.

Jordanstown’s Matthew Beattie struggled all weekend with his wrist injury and although he finished fifth on both days in the super mini small wheel races it wasn’t what he had hoped for.

“It is special to race in front of your home crowd but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the results I wanted,” he said.

Jason Meara’s hopes of a home win in the Pro Lites did not materialize but the Team RFX, St Blazey MX Suzuki rider made a good debut finishing fourth in all his races.

“It was a little disappointing but it is my first season racing in arenacross and I’m learning a lot,” he said.

The Pro class main event saw two different winners over the two nights with Adam Chatfield winning on Friday and Frenchman Adrien Escoffier on Saturday.