Guy Martin is making a comeback and has signed to contest the 2017 Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix and North West 200 for Honda Racing.
Road Racing Season Ends on a High
The curtain came down on the domestic road racing scene last weekend with the running of the International Gold Cup trophy meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough and with no less than 23 races on the schedule, it certainly proved to be a busy two days.
Apart from a damp Sunday morning and a stiff breeze, conditions were good throughout and whilst Dean Harrison dominated proceedings, thus limiting some truly close racing, it was a good way for the season to end. Indeed, it’s been a strong season for the roads with some superb performances and meetings along the way.
Harrison retired from the opening Supersport race on Saturday but after that, he was simply unstoppable as he romped to six wins from his remaining six races. Only once was he headed, in Sunday’s Open race, and he’s certainly taken over from Guy Martin as the dominant rider around the ‘Mount’.
His six wins at the Gold Cup made it a stunning 24 for the season having produced similar performances already at the Bob Smith Cup, Barry Sheene Festival and Cock o’ the North meetings. That makes it 50 wins in total at the venue and it’s hard to see anyone stopping him in 2017 either when he’ll continue with the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki team.
As has been the norm this season, Harrison’s closest challenger was Devitt RC Express Racing’s Ivan Lintin with the Lincolnshire rider winning the Supersport race when his fellow Kawasaki rider retired. The 32-year old took no less than three second place finishes to Harrison over the course of the two days, including the runners-up spot in the Gold Cup, whilst he also took two customary wins in the Supertwins class.
Whilst Lintin hasn’t quite got the pace to run with Harrison, at present, his measured approach has seen him rack up the results and he’ll continue to push him harder than anyone.
The highlight of the weekend was Sunday’s Open race as just two seconds covered the top six for much of the race and although Harrison eventually edged away, the pack behind included some star performers including Derek Sheils. The Dubliner was making his first appearance at Oliver’s Mount for four years and having impressed back then, he was immediately on the pace and immediately on the podium.
An underrated rider, Sheils has enjoyed another excellent season on the roads in 2016 both at the Nationals and Internationals, with his performances at the latter being particularly impressive as he’s stepped up to a new level.
Dan Hegarty, arguably the best privateer in 2016, again impressed at Scarborough and had it not been for some brake issues, he could well have finished on the podium more last weekend. It’s more than likely he’ll have an improved set up for 2017 and he’s certainly got the potential to challenge the factory-backed riders.
John McGuinness was back in action at Scarborough as he celebrated his 20th anniversary of competing at the circuit, his debut coming on the 250cc Paul Bird Honda at the same meeting in 1996. He only had his Bet Victor Superstock Honda at his disposal this time around so was at a slight disadvantage to his rivals but that didn’t detract from his performances and he took three top five finishes, including a third.
Fifth in the Gold Cup may not sound the best but the Morecambe Missile started from the back of the grid and whilst some riders may have taken it easy, or even pulled in, he pushed on throughout the race tearing through the field for another top class finish.
Meanwhile, it may not have been the best meeting in the world for Michael Dunlop at one of his less favoured circuits, but it was good to see him on the Buildbase Superbike BMW and he was on good form throughout the weekend, both on and off the bike.
It may not have the strength in depth that some other meetings do but the loyal group of riders that support Oliver’s Mount were again out in force and with Tim Reeves/Patrick Farrance adding some world class quality to the sidecar field, a huge crowd turned up in force so Scarborough can go into its 71st year in 2017 with its head held high.
What was your highlight of the road racing season for 2016? Share in the comments below.
Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.