The countdown to the 2019 Arenacross Tour is underway and local riders are topping the entries in every class.
A mix of experience and youth will give the home fans something to cheer in every class come January 18th and 19th at the SSE Arena.
Two of the youngest riders to line up in Belfast will be 10 year-old Castlederg brother’s Robbie and Cole McCullough who will contest the Youth 65cc class.
The twins were excited about the series as they sat proudly either side of their dad Philip on their HTM Husqvarna’s chatting about the forthcoming challenge.
There is a great history for the McCullough family in Arenacross with Philip a seasoned campaigner back in the early part of 2000.
“I rode Arenacross for a few years with my best result in 2002 when I finished runner up in Belfast,” smiled Philip.
“That would have been the highlight. I had a few good years at it but 2003 is one I’ll not forget as I broke my femur really bad and that put me out for the following 2004 season. My last year was 2006 but now it’s the boy’s turn.
“The boys have been to Belfast and watched over the past few years but last year they said dad we want to do this.
“So I agreed and said that I would try and get an entry for next year. I contacted Matt (Bates) and the team and got a phone call a few weeks ago to confirm that they had been selected.
“They are excited and no doubt they will be nervous but sure as long as they enjoy themselves that is the main thing. I don’t really tell them too much about the racing as I like them to go out and do their own thing.
“Martin Barr and myself have been talking about heading to a track in the south of England for some experience before Belfast.
“It’s obviously something completely new for them but at ten year’s of age I think they have to try their best and hopefully enjoy it.”
The boys did a few Ulster rounds this year with Cole winning at every round he competed in and his brother Robbie, who stepped up from the 50cc class into the 65s finishing inside the top three by the end of the season.
Philip knows how good his son’s are at motocross but he is not putting any pressure on the boys at this stage of their career.
“At the age they are at I’m not putting them in to full time racing yet,” said Philip
“I’m letting them do selected races and maybe in a few years time if they are still wanting to do it I’ll put the hammer down and put every thing in to it.
“At the end of the day they are ten years old and I can see for myself that there are too many young guys with their fathers pushing them far too hard and by the time they come 14 or 15 they don’t want to ride motorbikes any more.
“I don’t want that for my boys. They ride every week at my track and if they want to go racing they go and if they don’t they don’t. It’s as simple as that.
“Apparently lots of their friends from Edwards Primary School in Castlederg along with neighbours and family will be in Belfast cheering them on so Belfast will be good fun for them.
“It will probably be Cole’s last race at home on a 65 as he will be moving up to the 85 class for 2019 so it would be nice if he got a good result.
“I’ll be happy if either of them finish on the podium but at the same time if they don’t I’ll still be happy.”
Heading the Pro lites is our own Martin Barr on the Crescent Yamaha and alongside the tough experienced MX2 rider will be 23 year-old Glenn McCormick from Glenoe on the Unique Fit Out Husqvarna and Dundonald’s James Mackrel having his first Arenacross on a 250.
“I’m excited to get started and see what it’s like riding indoors instead of racing outdoors,” said the 21 year-old.
“I actually did the British Championship supercross when I rode in the 85cc class a few years ago but it has all changed since then.
“On a 250 it will certainly be different but it’s all about the start. I’ll try and get a good one and see where we end up at the end.”
Graeme Irwin, another big local name threw his hat into the ring last week when he announced that he was trying to get back from injury to race Areancross.
The ASA Hitachi KTM rider would certainly shake up the Pro class in Belfast if he makes it.
Fourteen year-old Drew McCreanor will have his first competitive outing on a Kawasaki when he lines up in Belfast for the Team Green Supermini Cup.
The talented teenager had his first run out on the Kawasaki at a private test in England along with the other eleven riders who will make up the selected 12 rider field.
“The test was good and it was really good to get back out on a bike after the injury that cut my season short,” commented Drew.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the Kawasaki having never ridden one before but it was easy to adapt to. I can’t wait to get back on it in Belfast.”
The introduction of the All-Ireland Cup adds another dimension to the event when twenty-four riders from all over Ireland will take part in a series of timed qualifications and heat races to determine the top six MX1 and MX2 riders to go forward into the twelve rider final, on both nights.
Tickets are available for Belfast at www.arenacrossuk.com