Richard Bird wins Irish opener

Richard Bird wins overall at opening Irish Championship round at Munster.
Richard Bird wins overall at opening Irish Championship round at Munster.

Reigning Irish Champion Richard Bird from Lisburn made the perfect start to his title defence coming away from the opening round in Munster at the weekend with the overall win despite some issues on the way.

The Five5 Motorsport / Watts Motorcycles KTM rider finished the day with a second, fourth and third giving him a hard earned overall victory after an oil leak in race one and a puncture in race two threatened to wreck his weekend.

“It was a steady start to the season,” said Bird.

“It wasn’t a great day on the results front but the overall was the important thing.

“The track was sketchy and a stone split the oil bung in race one and the engine was leaking oil for a lot of the race.

“I was getting signals about the problem but didn’t understand what they were trying to tell me and raced on.

“In race two I was lying second before getting a rear puncture on lap four and had to drop to fourth and just bring it home.

“Then as the track conditions got worse in the last race I rode a steady third behind John and Jason Meara. I just eased my way back in and was happy with my days work.”

Second overall was John Meara on the Watt Motorcycles kxf450 Kawasaki after two thirds and win. Ballymoney’s Robert Hamilton brought the O-MX Norman Watt KTM by Enjoy home third overall.

“It was a tough day and a bit up and down on the results with a sixth, second and a fourth,” said Hamilton.

“A crash in at turn two in race one didn’t help the cause but there’s still plenty of racing to come this year and third isn’t too bad at the opening round.”

The unluckiest rider on the day must be Belfast man James Mackrel.

The 22 year-old decided to race in both the MX1 and MX2 classes on the Russell’s Motorcycles/G&G Ross Yamaha and was in a class of his own in the opening MX1 race winning it by over 13 seconds then repeated the result in race two and was unfortunate in race three to suffer a puncture that forced him to retire to the pits.

In the MX2 class he took victory in race one and despite a rear wheel collapsing in race two did the same, as the race was red flagged due to an accident and the result taken from the previous lap.

Again a puncture in race three forced him into the pits missing out on yet another overall.

“Overall I’m happy enough. It was a good chance to test the bikes in a race but unfortunately problems ruined the whole thing,” said a disappointed Mackrel.

With both MX1 and MX2 racing together in the Ulster championship what bike will the young Belfast rider choose to ride at the opening round at the end of the month?

“I haven’t decided yet what class to race in, I suppose I will just see on the day,” added James.

Meanwhile, with the cancellation of the Irish MX Youth Championship meeting at Gormanston at the weekend, Ballyclare’s Charley Irwin made the long trip across the Irish Sea to race at the opening round of the Scottish BW 85 championship at Tain in the Highlands of Scotland.

The local boy rode his Discount Beds KTM into second place overall behind 14 year-old Ayden Smith.

“I had a bad start in my opening race and just put my head down a fought my way through to second at the flag,” said Charley.

“In the second race I got away from the gate pretty well but made a few mistakes and lost second to Lee Cameron two laps from home.

“In the last race I made a good start and pulled away from Cameron but I couldn’t catch Smith,” added the local rider.