Marty, Graeme and Stuey 162ey have made positive starts but Gordy rings his bell in Kent and things are even worse for Big Phil.
The Hawkstone International results had my tail wagging like a Dulux puppy. Martin Barr and Graeme Irwin’s pace in qualification must have sent shivers down the spine of the top British championship contenders and Martin’s subsequent chasing down of ex world champion Steve Ramon in the first moto was an amazing performance.
Martin took the battle for third place to the factory Suzuki star but just when it looked like Ramon was running out of answers for the Ulsterman, Marty’s KTM stepped out and threw him over the bars to end his challenge and race. Graeme kept both the Emerald Isle and KTM to the forefront, posting a strong sixth place in front of Stephen Sword and Jason Dougan.
Second time out and Martin nailed the holeshot and mixed it up with the regular GP racers, following home Shaun Simpson’s LS Honda for a fine fifth place and sending notice of his GP aspirations as Graeme picked himself up off the ground to post a respectable 10th place.
The early season has already dealt a severe body blow and indeed a gut-wrenching KO to the most anticipated comeback in Irish motocross. Philip McCullough’s return to racing has been torpedoed completely out of the water by a serious knee injury.
Phil sustained this injury just after Christmas and in typical McC fashion initially refused to accept the inevitable, continuing his training schedule until even he had to call it quits. Another year on the sidelines could very well spell the end – full stop – for the elder statesman. Then again, the man does not generally conform – full stop!
When we received confirmation of Philip’s news, Blarney had already mentally penned the opening paragraph of this month’s offering with the news that defending Ulster MX1/MX2 champion Robert Hamilton had fallen victim to the March Hare Motocross at Donemana, breaking his wrist in a nasty crash. Word is that the Hamstar will sit out at least the first round of both Ulster and Irish championships which, with the Ulster being only a six-round series, must cast a dark shadow over a successful defence for the G&G Ross racer. Then again, it’s motocross we’re talking about and Hammy is a proven race winner time and time again. With wins come points, add in a few DNFs from the competition and it’s game back on!
Tommy Merton won both motos aboard his Watt Kawasaki while a surprise pair of second places by Michael McCammond aboard the JAR Racing Honda will have given confidence to the ever-smiling youngster.
As predicted the Irish Armada made their presence well and truly felt at Little Silver at the opening round of the Maxxis series – okay, so we didn’t get a podium but it’s on the cards. Ulstermen Graeme Irwin and Gordon Crockard put in a solid day’s work with sixth and seventh overall finishes and Graeme’s baptism in the premier MX1 series was to say the least encouraging, despite carrying an excessive dose of man flu.
Wayne Garrett put his best foot forward posting a 14-13-15 card on his first competitive outing on Darren Wilson’s Rockstar KTM and the Comber-based lad was a happy camper when we spoke as he made the return journey from Devon.
Just three weeks later the Maxxis series had moved east into Kent to the famous Canada Heights circuit for round two where Marty was best of the Irish, finishing seventh overall in MX1 on his Proppa.com 350 KTM with a 7-6-10 card. Graeme snuck into the top 10 with three consistent races but the lights went out for the Crock Star in a second moto that had already been restarted after wildcard Seb Pourcel slung himself down the track.
The red flags came out again as GC was unconscious but he recovered quickly and was last heard disagreeing with a medic about the need for him to attend hospital.
Down in MX2 Stuart Edmonds ended the day in ninth overall, the TM man starting strongly with an eighth in the opener. Stuey 162ey then slipped back with 10th and 13th-placed finishes but there’s still plenty of cause for optimism right there.
Okay, that’s me done for another month – tune in next time for another instalment of baloney, sorry, Blarney!