Sports

McGee the hero at Enniskillen

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

MULLINGAR'S Derek McGee was the hero of the inaugural Enniskillen road races, returning to the race calendar after a 66-year absence.
In sizzling 30 degree temperatures, the hottest ever recorded at an Irish road race, McGee was the man of the meeting.
Following a few weeks rest for everyone (except the Enniskillen organizers) after the Isle of Man TT races, the Irish road race scene returned with the new event, albeit a non-championship event, but on a real road race circuit, three miles in length.
The short course had a bit of everything for the road races, fast sweeping bends and an undulating circuit.
Despite a rather under par entry, both the riders and race fans got great value for their money, as each competitor was a newcomer to the circuit. They were given two newcomer practice sessions, and then a five lap timed practice session, this was followed by two laps prior each race, so, yes everyone got great track time.
In weather akin to the mid 70s, the club took care of the circuit as best they could, prior to practice day, a tractor travelled continuously around the circuit, wetting the track, in order to keep it cool.
During practice, melting tar caused some problems, but the club were always on top of this, dusting the affected areas when necessary.
Race day dawned, with the large crowds arriving in their droves for the first road race in this picturesque area for over 66 years.
As fans gathered at their spectating points, the meeting was opened with Loris Britton, son of the late Richard Britton heading a Lap of Honour onboard his Dad's Superbike, along with brother Nathan and cousin Gary, also on board Bikes as raced by Richard, who was known to everyone as the People's Champion.
In an amazing coincidence, Richard Britton's race number was always #8, and in the opening race of the meeting, it was was former Mini-GP Champion, Darryl Anderson who took not only his first ever road race win, but became the first winner of the rejuvenated Enniskillen road races, using the same race number as the late Richard Britton used - number 8.
The opening 600 race saw McGee head the field, with McLean a couple of seconds adrift, by mid-distance, McLean looked to be making inroads on McGee, but overshot Grashna junction.
He managed to rejoin, albeit 20 seconds down, but still remained in second spot.
Pre-race favourite, McGee was a non starter in the moto three when his Joey's Bar Honda stopped on the warm up lap.
Having his first outing on a 125, Kevin Fitzpatrick took his first win since his support racing days, when he won by an amazing 20 seconds from Nigel Moore.
Local woan, Melissa Kennedy had a troubled practice on her moto three machine which saw her revert to the 125 Honda for the race.
Despite holding onto a podium spot, her machine seemed to slow, and she eventually finished sixth, the talented biker certainly deserved to be on the podium for her local event, but it wasn't to be.
The lightweight Supersport 400 race was run alongside the Moto Three, and here it was. Local hero, Paul Gartland took a well deserved win, much to the delight of the local fans. Making up for his retirement in the Junior Support, Enda Tereaty took a well deserved second place with Aaron Boyd third
Stephen McKeown put his triumph on pole for the senior support class, just three tenths of a second ahead of Darren Keys, but when the flag dropped, it was Keys who inherited the lead on the run up to the first corner.
Despite the close attentions of McKeown, who also had the fastest lap. Keys held on to this advantage to take his first road race win.
In the first open race McGee was in a league of his own unchallenged, he took his Kawasaki to victory from Adam McLean, a career best result for Graham Kennedy saw the Waterford rider take a hard earned podium finish on his BMW, ahead of Thomas Maxwell and Kevin Fitzpatrick.
Brian Mateer took the 250 classic win from reigning champion Philip Shaw, Richard Ford took the win in the unlimited class, with Robert McCrum a non starter due to engine problems.
In the 350 class, Nigel Moore took second with Ken Parkes in third, whilst in the 500 class, Wattie Brown who took second after a race long dice with Mark Parret, who retired on the laps lap, with Freddie Stewart taking 3rd. David Crawford took 8th on the Leonard Honda.
The supertwin race saw the smallest of grids, but up front, the Mullingar Missile was again in dominant form.
His speed and talent that took him to second place at the Isle of Man TT race in the supertwin class, McGee took this race by the scuff of his neck, and taking the win by 12 seconds from Adam McLean, with Thomas Maxwell a safe third, another top finish for local rider Paul Gartland in fourth after a race long duel with Stephen McKnight who took fifth place.
In the second supersport race, McGee found himself under pressure from McLean, keen to make amends for his overshoot in race one, despite taking the lead on lap two, McGee soon retailiated and went on to set another new lap record for this class, breaking his first race speeds, to leave it at an amazing 102.258 mph!
At the flag, McLean was only half a second in arrears but well clear of third man Kevin Fitzpatrick.
As in race one, it was McGee who rocketed to the front, again, unchallenged, he became the inaugural winner of the Richard Britton Memorial race, a truly magnificent display of riding on this undulating circuit.
McLean, who admits he is still learning how to ride a superbike, took a safe second, but third place was always in doubt until the flag, with Maxwell, Kennedy and Fitzpatrick disputing the final podium place right up to the chequered flag.
As in race one, it was Kennedy who got the verdict from Maxwell and Fitzpatrick.
Despite McGee's pace, he lapped slower than he did in the open race. However, McLean, Kennedy and Fitzpatrick each joined the 100mph lap club in this race.
McGee's fastest lap in the first open race at 104.165 is now the absolute course record, which is truly amazing, considering the nature of the circuit.
This weekend we have another feast of two wheel action, At kirkistown on Saturday, the irish Mini Bike championships continue with round four of their series, Practice from 9.30 am, racing from 12 noon.
Saturday will also see the practices for the Skerries 100 Races, where both Michael and William Dunlop will be in action along with Derek McGee, Derek Sheils, Michael Sweeney and Davey Todd etc.
There is an extra Superbike race to be known as the Martin Finnegan Race, which is being run in memory of their local hero on his tenth anniversay ,with a prizefund of 5000E
Racing takes place on Sunday, roads close at 10am.

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