Ards Motorcycle Club Turner Trophy Trial
Saturday 5th November saw the Ards Club host the third round of the Irish Trials Championships at the Leadmines, Newtownards.
The club had spent the previous weeks setting out a course over the Leadmines and the neighbouring land, with the kind permission of the landowners, to test the ability of riders in all the grades from Expert Elite through to Youth. At this time of year the weather usually has a part to play and it was no different this time, although strangely, it was an absolutely beautifully dry and sunny, if cold, day and this meant the sections were perhaps made slightly easier than when they were set out.
Eighty one riders of all ages and abilities and from all corners of the country set off on their mixture of modern, classic and electric bikes to tackle ten sections over four laps, with the usual pressure of a time limit to add to the drama!
In the top Expert Elite grade with ten riders, the anticipated battle was between current leader and defending champion, Sean Doyle from Bray near Dublin, and local lad Stuart McClurg. Both riders had a win apiece going into the event. Third placed Chris Brown would also be pushing these two as well.
After two laps, the halfway stage, both Stuart and Sean were tied on 9 marks lost. Stuart had started better, 3 to Sean’s 7 on the first lap, but a 5 on lap two and a 2 mark loss by Sean kept them locked together. Third at this stage was Chris on 18 marks lost. The scene was set then for a fight to the end for the win in the final two laps.
Both riders handed in their final score cards just in time to avoid penalties for going over the five hour limit and when the scores were tallied up Sean pipped Stuart by 3 marks for the win to extend his lead in the championship. It was 16 for Sean and 19 for Stuart! Stuart will be kicking himself, as a poor third lap where he dropped 10 marks with two 5’s really did cost him the win. He rode the last lap faultless, the only rider to do a clean lap in the grade all day. Chris held on to take third on 29 from young Josh Hanlon in fourth on 38 marks lost.
In the Expert grade nine riders took to the course and at the halfway stage Neal Perry just held off Andrew McCrory for first, 7 marks to 9. Alexander Lennox held third on 12 marks lost. The lead then was swapped numerous times over the next two laps but once the final scores came out Jake Hanlon had come from the middle of the pack to take the win! His final card of only 3 marks lost really did the trick, this was a quarter of the scores of the other riders and pushed Andrew and Neal down the podium, with Andrew taking second and Neal third. Jake had 18, Andrew 21 and Neal with 25.
The Semi Expert grade was won by Mark Harris who showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the riders by setting off with a fantastic first half score of only 3 marks, giving him the lead from Jonny Hagan on 10. Mark kept the momentum going, posting only single mark loses on the next two laps to take the win on 5 marks from Jonny on 14. Jonny though had the best lap of all on his last lap posting a faultless display. Third home was Stanley Callaghan with 28, showing how well Mark and Jonny had been riding. Next in fourth was Matt Millar.
In the Clubman class it was a ding dong nerve jangling battle all day with any one of a handful of riders including Stephen Pyper, Roger Callaghan, Stephen Murphy, Phillip McClurg or one of the McKee brothers in with a shout.
At the halfway stage of what is always a low scoring grade, Stephen Pyper just held off Terence McKee, who was debuting his brand new 2017 4RT Montesa, and Roger Callaghan by 1 mark. He had lost only 1 to their 2. A host of riders were fighting for the lower positions, with Terrys brother Warren and Robbie Jennings locked together on 5 marks lost with, surprisingly, Stephen Murphy on his immaculate Majesty 250 next on 6 marks. A slack “five” really did scupper his plans for the win, such is the pressure in this grade!!
Once the cards were counted at the end of the event the top three remained the same with Stephen taking the win on 2 marks lost from Terrys 4, 1 lost on time, and Roger taking third on 5 marks lost. Fourth home was Stephen Murphy on 6 marks lost, with him riding the second half of the trial with no penalties, that “five” really did cost him the win!!
In the Sportsmans grade we saw another close fight all day for the win between Allistair Galloway and Luke Harris, closely followed by Keith Lennox. At halfway Allistair had 1 mark to Luke’s 3 with Keith third on 5. Again, once the scores for the final two laps were counted Allistair held off Luke for the win, posting a final score of 3 to the 4 of Luke, with Keith just holding off Mark McNeill and David Brown to take third on 10 marks lost.
Into the Youth grade and in Youth A, Adam Harris and Reece Gazzard fought each other for the win. At the halfway mark Adam was two marks better than Reece on 10 with two laps of 5, Reece started better on 3 and had 9 on his second lap. Adam held his nerve and took the win with a total score of 13. Reece went off the boil, but still took second on 28 marks lost. Third home was Luke Coughlan on 76 marks lost.
Youth B was a battle between Scott Callaghan and Jay Pyper. Scott rode steadily all day to take the win on 9 marks lost to Jays uncharacteristic 26.
Youth C was between Stuart Lappin and Ross Allen on his Oset electric bike. Stuart taking the win on 23 to Ross’s 51, which is still a fantastic score as he was tackling the main course on a small electric bike.
The club thank all those who helped, the observers, the landowners and the riders for supporting the event.