McGee the star as Road Races prove a major hit
Derek McGee celebrated five victories as organisers celebrated the successful return of the road racing to Fermanagh.
The Mullingar rider was the star of the day as he took the chequered flag in every race he started, but the team behind the running of the event were the biggest winners with the meeting receiving glowing reports on its return after a 66 year absence.
“We were delighted with how it went,” said race organiser Fiona Ferris.
“We got all the races run without any incidents or red flags, so we were all delighted and the feedback we have received has been unbelievable.
“Spectators have been saying how happy they were and riders saying it is their new favourite circuit, so it couldn’t have gone any better. When the last bike went over the finish line we were able to celebrate. Everything went 100 percent and there were no issues at all.”
Years of work had gone into making the event happen and the organising team had planned for virtually all eventualities, but Fiona admitted that melting tar was not a problem they had predicted.
“We had planned for wet weather but we didn’t expect our concern to be the road melting on us,” she said.
“The original road race had to be cancelled because of melting tar so it was almost a case of history repeating itself. It was a huge concern but we spent a week pumping cool water onto the road to keep it cool during the day and keep the core temperature of the road down.
“That definitely helped, and then on Friday night we were at it again during the night until 3 o’clock in the morning. We took precautions to preserve it as best we could.
“It did start melting during the day so we had to start putting sand and cement on it, but it held out just about.”
Friday’s practice sessions had demonstrated the speed of the circuit, with some of the top riders lapping the course at an average speed in excess of 100 miles per hour.
It quickly became obvious that Derek McGee was going to be the man to beat, but practice was not going so well for local rider Melissa Kennedy.
The Florencecourt resident was hoping to perform well on her home circuit but in the Moto 3 practice she came off her Honda at Gransha.
Uninjured she managed to get back out for the second session, but mechanical issues meant was left to borrow a bike the race on Saturday.
Ederney’s Paul Gartland was having more success, qualifying at the front of the grid for the Lightweight Supersport class.
In scorching conditions, the first bikes around the track on race day were ridden in memory of the late Richard Britton.
The Enniskillen rider’s son Loris, brother Nathan and cousin Gary took the famous green bikes on two laps of the circuit as a prelude to the day’s racing in an emotional tribute.
The competitive action got underway with the McGirr Fuels Junior Support race, with Darryl Anderson taking his debut race win and becoming becoming the first ever winner on the new Enniskillen Road Race circuit.
In the first 600 Supersport race of the day sponsored by Erne Insurance, it was pole man McGee who led from start to finish.
Adam McLean had pushed him hard on the first few laps, but lost 14 seconds after overshooting and had to settle for second.
Local riders Melissa Kennedy and Paul Gartland were in action in race three, the combined Moto3/125 and Lightweight Supersport class, sponsored by Joey’s Bar Motorcycle Club and Enniskillen Tyres respectively.
First to leave the grid were the 125s, and Melissa got off to a flyer of a start, considering she was on a bike that she had never ridden before, and after the first two laps was lying in third position. As the race continued it was Kevin Fitzpatrick who was pulling away at the front from Nigel Moore and Sam Dunlop and that’s the way it stayed to the end, with Melissa holding on to a top six finish.
At the front of the 400s, Paul got off to a flyer on lap one and continued to pull away at the front to take the race win by 27 seconds from Enniskillen Club member Enda Trearty in second and Aaron Boyd third.
Race 4 was the Devenish Bar Senior Support race, and leading from start to finish it was Darren Keys who took the win by less than one second. Next up was the eagerly anticipated Open race, which saw McGee take his second win of the day, and in the process pushed the lap speed to over 104mph. In the Junior Classics, sponsored by Vaughan Lawnmower Services, the C250 class was won by Brian Mateer, while in the Oliver Weir C350 class it Barry Davidson who was the runaway winner.
McGee’s hat-trick was complete in the Armstrong Engineering Supertwin race with another start to finish win with McLean taking second and Thomas Maxwell completing the top three. Paul Gartland just missed out on a podium in fourth.
The second 600 Supersport of the day sponsored by Euro Auctions again saw McGee leading home McLean. In the Senior Classic, it was Barry Davidson who got his second win of the day, while in the Enniskillen Motorcycles C1000 class it was Lancashire’s Richard Ford who took victory. The final race of the day, the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Richard Britton Memorial Race, saw McGee round off his successful day with win number five.
The organisers were keen to thanks all the residents around the circuit, the marshals and volunteers and all the riders and spectators who supported the first Enniskillen Road Races. Fiona Farris is hopeful the success of this year will pave the way to making the event a regular fixture.
“The plan was always to run it as an annual event, so we will have to sit down and work out where we stand and look at what we did right and what we did wrong and see what we need to change if we are going to go again next year.”