The tension’s building in Ireland and our man Mills can’t wait for it all to kick off – easy tiger!
There is more than a little anticipation in the air around the Emerald Isle and against the backdrop of a very much depleted economy the realisation is that Irish racing talent is hot to trot and looking forward to a successful season ahead.
Phil Neill is better know these days for being the driving force for Suzuki’s UK efforts in both BSB and international road races. Heading up the ultra-successful Relentless Suzuki by TAS Performance racing team, 2011 will see Philip returning to motocross. It was no big surprise that Suzuki looked across the Irish Sea when they decided to restructure the base from which to launch a serious attack on the various UK MX championships. After a two-hour meeting at TAS HQ I can tell you that Phil is really looking forward to – in his words – “coming back to his roots”.
As an ex Irish and Ulster MX champ and well-seasoned British MX 125cc series competitor, Philip is no stranger around the UK racing paddock and a good few of the current circuits being a top five finisher on more than one occasion in British championship races in the past. I’d fully intended an in-depth Blarney look into this new and exciting race team but while steeped in racing history it’s also at present covered with a cloaking device which prevents me spilling the beans on a mouth-watering line-up of riders and sponsors.
What I can confirm, at this point, is that they will have a rider line-up in both MX1 and MX2 classes, run Polisport plastics and Risk Racing products and their bikes will maintain a ‘just-new’ look care of Pro-Clean. And there may even be a hint of international spice in the offing – watch this space!
Graeme Irwin called in to say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ as Mr Ever Smiling’s heading off to Spain to dial in his new HM Plant Red Bull KTM UK machinery for a full-blown shot at the British and world MX1 championships. Personally, I think MX1 is a great call from R Dog – Graeme’s pet name for team boss Roger Magee. The 350cc KTM will smooth out G’s riding style and an early jump in with the big guns will not phase this young star at all. I wish I could bottle the enthusiasm, energy and talent that Graeme exudes. This kid is high on life and living the dream – here’s hoping he can keep to the programme and show us what he’s capable of come the end of the season!
As usual the MRA’s announcement of the Ulster 2011 race format received mixed reviews. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t – you’re never going to please everybody all of the time. Personally, I think that they have shown some foresight in having both MX1 and MX2 Ulster championships on the same day. This will take a lot of financial pressure off people trying to compete in a further six events throughout the year. Although I can’t for the life of me get my head around the decision to invite entries from both Grade A and B for the MX2 championship – and only Grade A riders are allowed to enter the Premier class championship! Inviting entries from A and B riders will guarantee full line-ups throughout the season as between 60-80 riders will ride a timed practice to qualify 40 riders through to the startgate. With some Grade A riders choosing to race MX2 only, coupled with the usual injuries and dwindling of riders as the season moves into the summer months, I can foresee the Premier Ulster championship running 14 rider line- ups come July which is not good for clubs, sponsors, riders or the general image of Ulster championship MX.
Multi Ulster and Irish MX1 and MX2 champion Wayne Garrett will join Darren Wilson’s Moto One Irn Bru KTM team for a crack at the Maxxis and Red Bull Pro Nationals in 2011. Wayne will still ride TSR KTM’s for his domestic championship challenges. With injuries keeping him from collecting much silverware in 2010, Wayne is determined that 2011 will see him back where he belongs – at the top of his game.
Tommy Merton rejoins the WATT Kawasaki squad to defend his MX1 Irish championship title that he wrenched from Robert Hamilton in the final race of the 2010 season. Disappointed as Robert may have been on the day, it would have been hard to stop the reigning Ulster MX1 and MX2 champion from smiling all the way back to the seaside village of Portavogie.
One top racer glad to see the back of 2010 is Watt GOMX KTM rider Richard Bird. The ex MX2 champ sat out most of last season with a thumb injury but is now back in the gym and pumping towards a return to racing. Richard is also celebrating his engagement to his lovely girlfriend Scorcha Laverty. It must be something in the water as Wayne Garrett also popped the question to his girlfriend Sarah Bickerstaff just before Christmas. Congratulations to you all…